Discover top ideas to make your dinner setup, perfect

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Need some simple rules for the perfect dinner setup?

But, what makes for a perfect dinner setup?

Well, first up, treat every dinner setup as you would for friends.

And that means from food to drink to decorations.

Then, second, you want to be sure that your guests have all they need to enjoy themselves while at your house. 

So, this (affiliate) post has put together some simple steps to make sure everything is just right, so check it out.

Always a fun time around our table… and relaxed!

How to prepare for a casual dinner

  • Set the table with a placemat, napkin, and utensils.
  • Place glassware near water or wine glasses for anyone who drinks alcohol.
  • Put out some appetisers if you’re cooking dinner in advance and want to have something to nibble on while people are arriving.
    • Cook ahead of time and set aside any food you want to offer your guests.
  • Make sure all the dishes and utensils are clean.
  • Set out any kitchen tools like knives and serving forks that people may need.
  • Put out a dish of fresh fruit for dessert, but only if you’re serving dinner.
  • Decorate with flowers or candles to make the space cosy and warm.

How to prepare for formal dinner

  • Clean the house.
  • Set up a table with place settings, including glasses and silverware for each person.
  • Check to make sure that there are enough chairs for everyone.
  • Fold napkins neatly in the centre of each plate –
    • arrange flowers on it or set out votives (small candle holders i.e. tealights) to create an ambience.
  • Clear away clutter from anywhere near where guests will be seated; this includes the kitchen.
  • Leave the oven off, stovetop and all gas burners turned off –
    • clear away clutter from anywhere near where guests will be seated; this includes the kitchen.
  • **Dinner is not formal if it includes watermelon and a plastic tablecloth.**

Know where to place every meal component

If you’re serving soup, it goes on the left.

If you’re serving vegetables, they go to the centre of the plate.

A protein dish should get served to the right, and gravy is usually on either side of it.

Vegetables or salad are often put in bowls at some point during dinner.

The main course

The main course, the dish with the most protein in it and often the most considerable portion size at dinner time, should be placed to the left.

The starch or carbohydrate that’s accompanying this dish goes on either side of it so as not to take up more room than necessary.

If other vegetables are getting served, they go to the centre of the plate.

If you’re serving soup, it goes on the left and is usually finished with a piece of bread to soak up any liquid.

Vegetables are often put into bowls at some point during dinner time.

Starch would get placed next to this dish if not already there because starchy vegetables are just that starchy.


Dessert should only be served if you’re serving dinner.

If the meal is formal, the dessert would go on its plate with a linen napkin under it and not next to the other courses or in bowls like vegetables.

This is so people can enjoy their desserts without making any messes.

If you’re serving watermelon or other fruit for dessert, it’s usually in between bites of dinner instead of being set up.


If you’re serving alcohol, make sure there’s an area in the house where guests can serve themselves.

This may be near a bar or in the kitchen if it has more space for people to pour their drinks and hang coats.

It is imperative not to leave any drinking utensils out when they are not in use.

Make sure there are enough glasses and silverware for guests to have a drink with dinner!

If you’re serving wine, it’s best served at the table, but you may also place platters of wine on side tables so as not to obstruct any views or seating space.

Water should be kept nearby in a pitcher or dispenser with a large carafe so that guests can pour their drinks.

If you’re serving juice, it may go at the end of the meal to counterbalance any rich dishes consumed earlier in the night.

Coffee and tea should be set out for those who want after-dinner beverages!

Set all the cutlery and napkins on the table

Utensils should be placed at one end of each place setting.

For example, napkins are set to the right or left depending on whether they’ll be used if needed.

While at it, you may want to get high-quality ones from Richard Haworth

Place placemats, glasses, and water pitchers near dishes that need them: soup bowls, appetiser plates, and soup dishes.

If you’re serving dinner, it’s best to have a plate for each person that includes the main course as well as any side dishes or vegetables that are part of the meal, so no one gets left without enough food on their plate.

It’s also important not to forget about dessert.

If you’re serving dinner, dishes for the dessert should be placed in a separate area to avoid cluttering up the table. I

f you are not eating simultaneously with your guests, it’s best to set out what they will need for their meal before they arrive so that there is less of an interruption when everyone takes their seats!

Personalise with cards

You can also personalise the place setting with cards that explain any dietary restrictions or allergies.

If someone has gluten sensitivities, it’s best to make sure they are not sitting next to a guest who prefers bread at dinner time.

In conclusion, there are many ways to set a dinner table for guests, but these simple rules should work well for most households.

So, follow these simple rules for the perfect dinner set up and put a smile on your guests’ face.

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