The upcoming holiday season puts a focus on entertainment and creating a beautiful table setting. Learn what you need, how to set it up and the best etiquette at your newly decorated table.

Table linen

Your table setting needs a good foundation and that means a tablecloth. This is a decorative accessory that brings the whole table together. It also makes the whole table quieter, particularly when a padded silence cloth is placed underneath the tablecloth. Colours for formal dining are white, ivory and ecru. The napkins and tablecloth should always match for consistency. You must also consider the texture of the tablecloth. Something like the Now Designs Linen Tablecloth in white has a crisp, pristine pattern that lends a touch of sophistication to the table. The 100% cotton tablecloth is machine washable. At 152.4 cm by 304.8cm (59 in x 119 in) it will give you that luxurious and deep overhang off the table. It should be 25 to 28 cm (10 to 15 inches) so it rests in the diner’s lap.

Etiquette Tip #1: If you drop some food onto the tablecloth discreetly scoop it up with your spoon or knife and place it on the edge of your plate.

Building the setting

In formal dining the dinner plate is put on top of a charger plate (also known as a service plate, buffet plate, cover plate, lay plate, and place plate). The decorative Brilliant Platine Charger shimmers with gold or silver tones that is perfect for framing your dinnerware. Brings earthy tones of forest green, deep brown and metallic to your table with the Tannex Stone Charger Plate. Both plates are 33 cm (13 in), making them ideal to use as a service plate and each piece is individually hand painted so no two pieces are exactly alike. In formal dining, food is never placed on the charger plate.

Etiquette Tip #2: Bring the food to your mouth, not your mouth to the food. Sit up straight and bring your fork or spoon straight up and lean in ever so slightly so you can reach your mouth without slouching over.

Placing the plates

Don’t panic about placement on the table. It’s based on logic. The first step is to set down the dinner plates. Make sure they are centered in front of each chair and lined up with the plate directly across from it. Place each plate a thumb knuckles length from the edge of the table. You want something classic and sophisticated such as the Dansk Classic Fjord Dinnerware Set. This white porcelain setting includes the standard sized 27 cm (11 inch) dinner plate, 21 cm (8.5 in) salad plate and 17 cm (6.75 in) bowl. Bread and butter plates are left above the main plate. The salad plate will be the first to be placed on top of the charger plate, followed by the dinner plate. If the guest wants to have salad at the same time as the main course, the salad plate can be moved.

Etiquette Tip #3: Wait until everyone else has been served before starting to eat or begin when the host asks you to.


Getting the cutlery correct

You’ll need enough flatware for a formal dinner. Set the silverware on the table in the order it will be used starting from the outside and moving in. The 45-piece Gorham Column II Set gives you enough flatware for eight settings with a five-piece serving. Inspired by Federal-period architecture, the 18/10 stainless has a sophisticated scroll design with European sizing.

Forks go on the left. Place the dinner fork first, making sure to line it up with the edge of the table using your thumb to measure. Never put the cutlery underneath the plate. Put the table knife on the right side of the charger plate, making sure it lines up with the fork with the blade facing the plate. Next add the fish fork and knife, making sure they line up. Then add the salad fork. The soupspoon will rest alongside the fish knife. A dessert fork and/or spoon can be placed horizontally above the dinner plate.

Etiquette Tip #4: Wondering which fork and knife to use? You start using the flatware on the outside and work towards the plate as the meal progresses.

Water vs. wine

For a dinner party, there are usually three drinking glasses. On the right side, the glass closest to the main plate is for white wine while the middle glass is for red wine. The coffee cup and saucer will rest to the right of the red wine glass. A white wine glass will have a smaller bowl and rim while the red wine glass typically has a rounder, wider bowl.

The Trudeau Bohemia Turbulence Wine Glasses are designed for better oxygenation so it can bring out the wine full bouquet The star glass composition of the Bormioli Rocco Electra Red Wine Glasses offers clarity and sparkle for a clean look. A lead-free, laser-cut-thin rim makes for easy drinking while the XLT process strengthens the pulled stem to resist wear.

If you’re looking for some Old World elegance, the Crystalite Bohemia Red Wine Glasses Is the perfect accompaniment for your wine. Made of non-leaded crystal they are still dishwasher safe.

Etiquette Tip #5: Wondering which water glass is yours? Make two circles with your pointer finger and thumb by having them touch. Stick the remaining 3 fingers straight up (as shown here). On the left side you’ll see the letter B – for the bread plate. On the right you’ll see the letter D – for drink. Your water glass will always be on your right side.

Napkins: The finishing touch

Napkins should always match the colour of the tablecloth and have a texture that can absorb moisture. Always place the napkin in the center of the service place and if you’re using a napkin ring, the tip of the napkin should be pointing towards the dinner guest.

Etiquette Tip #6: After sitting, unfold your napkin and place it on your lap. Never tuck it into your collar. Use it to wipe your lips as needed. Place it on the chair if you are leaving to go to the bathroom. At the end of the meal, loosely fold the napkin and place it to the left of your plate.

Bon appetit! Find your perfect table setting by visiting Best Buy online.

Shelagh McNally
I’ve been covering technology since 1992 and I’ve seen a lot of technology come and go. I enjoy following the trends, spotting the winners and losers and teaching consumers how to get the best products and services for their needs. My work has been published in the National Post, Reader's, Yahoo, Miami Herald and other North American publications and websites.