When it comes to entertaining, there is nothing which will impress guests more than a beautifully set table. I was recently gifted some festive table items by the lovely people at Sophie Allport and I thought this would be a good opportunity to give you some ideas about setting your own table for a meal – perhaps having your girlfriends or sisters round for lunch in the run up to Christmas or dinner with some neighbours.
Nowadays, we like to consider that our meals at home are all ‘casual’ and ‘take us as you find us’ but your guests will be so impressed and will feel very special if they see the time and effort you have gone to in preparation for their visit!
Depending on your preference, you can either use a table cloth or placements. I have used the Sophie Allport Placements on my table (here).
I love to use white crockery or my set of dishes from Denby, (with its green rim) given to us as a wedding present when we got married. I would recommend, if possible to have a separate dinner service for when you are entertaining.
So, where to begin…
Table Centrepiece – for this type of meal, go for something simple. I have used a trifle bowl and filled it with a candle, fairy lights and pine cones. I have also used tea lights in some lovely metallic holders which I bought last year. Flowers are always good but for Christmas it’s nice to use some holly (with berries if you can get it) or some other type of greenery. Really, it’s down to your own creativity and there are lots of ideas on Google or Pinterest.
Next, lay all placemats on the table depending on the number of guests. Sit your dinner plate in the centre of each placemat.
The napkin can be placed virtually anywhere you’d like – on the centre of the plate, but could also be placed to the left of the plate under the forks, or even to the left of the forks all on its own. If you’ll be serving bread, the bread plate can sit to the left of the entire place setting, above the forks. A specific bread and butter knife is optional.
Next put all of the cutlery in place – start with Main Course knife and fork sat closest to the plate, with Starter Course cutlery to the outside of these. Remember that knife blades traditionally face the plate. If you are serving soup then the soup spoon goes to the right of the knife/knives
If Dessert is being served, place a fork and/or dessert spoon, facing in opposite directions to each other over the top of the plate
Any wine or water glasses should be placed on the right of the setting, above the knife/knives
This may seem very fussy but whether you’re setting a table for a casual or formal meal preparation in advance is key, and it means you as a host or hostess can join in and have a good time yourself without having to jump up and down fetching additional cutlery or glasses!
Note: I like to serve food on warmed plates and while it may seem a bit of a fuss, I will remove the dinner plates before I serve (unless you are having a buffet style meal where all food is placed in the centre of the table so everyone can help themselves)
If you really want to ‘push the boat out’ then you could include ‘Favours’ for your guests.
As this is a Christmas Meal, I have baked some homemade gingerbread tree decorations. Totally edible (and delicious) and your guests can take them home if they wish, to place on their own tree! I have included below the recipe I used and I promise they are easy peasy 🙂
– CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD –
- 350g Plain Flour
- 1 teasp Bicarbonate of Soda
- 2 teasp Ground Ginger
- 1 teasp ground cinnamon
- 125g Butter
- 175g Light Soft Brown Sugar
- 1 Egg
- 4 tablsp Golden Syrup
- Tubes of Ready-Made coloured Icing and Decorative Sprinkles (I bought mine in Homesavers)
Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add in the butter and blend until the mixturelooks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.
Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in cling film and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the gingerbread men shapes and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them.
Bake for 12–15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. When cooled decorate with the writing icing and cake decorations, if using.
So there it is.. If you haven’t done something like this before or if maybe this is your first year in a new home then I would encourage you to give it a go! Who knows, you might get bitten by the entertaining bug and this might be the first of many 🙂
** This post contains affiliate links and Sophie Allport products have been gifted as part of a current Campaign. All thoughts, words and ideas are absolutely my own **