Sunday, August 19, 2007

Table Settings

Here's a pretty setting for a bridal table. This was taken from a decades old pamphlet, but it would still be lovely today.

In one sense, the principles of the well-set table haven't changed in at least seventy years. It's good to understand the rationale behind these rules, because they are based on time-tested logic. When followed, they add to the convenience and comfort of a meal. Also, because they are familiar, they make family and guests feel at ease.

There are time-tested reccomendations for how to set a table for a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner, a buffet, a tea, a shower, a brunch, a picnic, etc. Far from being restrictive, these methods help you organize things so that your meal or event flows smoothly. Also, they allow a surprising amount of leeway for creativity. Additionally, these time-proven methods work as well for ultra-modern table furnishings as they do for more traditional looking tables, linens, and dishes.

On the other hand, people do feel freer today to experiment with new looks and new ways of doing things. If you want to try your hand at coming up with something fresh and striking, go for it! However, chances are your experiments will be more successful if you take the time to study traditional table settings, first. Don't just memorize the rules, although you will want to know them. Learn the thinking behind the rules. Then, consider seriously the convenience and comfort of the people who will be dining at your table -- both family and guests. You don't want to come up with a magnificent looking creation that forces diners to crane their necks to look at each other or that makes them feel crammed and awkward.

What is the old saying, "You have to know the rules to break the rules well?" If you want to experiment, simply look for new ways to accomplish the same things that the old rules accomplished. Apply some thoughtfulness and logic to your fresh, free-spirited design, and you're sure to come up with a winner.

For examples of how to set a table for various occasions, visit, and read the articles about table settings. Study the diagrams and think about why they are set up as they are.


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