Ava Gardner Table

I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, everyday kindness.

There’s something so inviting about a table set with crisp linens, pretty china, sparkling glassware and gleaming flatware. And when the host adds a few personal and creative touches, it makes it all the more welcoming. Preparing to host a dinner party this spring or summer? Here are two visual guides and five tips that will make setting your table a breeze:

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InformalTableSetting

The Salonniere’s Top Five Table Setting Tips

1. Sprinkle your table with special finds like vintage salt and pepper shakers, china, and pretty candle holders and turn your table into a truly personal design statement. My favorite resources are the vintage home department at Bergdorf Goodman1stDibs and P.O.S.H Chicago.

Vintage Tiffany Dinner Plates

2. Not sure where to put the bread plate? Hold your hands in front of you and make “okay signs” with both thumbs and forefingers. The left thumb and forefinger will form a small “b,” which will remind you that the bread plate goes on the left. Your right thumb and forefinger will form a lowercase “d,” which tells you that the drinks go on the right.

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3. To create centerpieces that won’t compete with your meal, use scent-free candles and not-too-fragrant flowers. Also, keep your floral arrangements low so your guests can engage easily with those across the table and use lots of candles. They draw people toward each other and create atmosphere.

4. When setting your table, place the water glass high enough above the dinner knife to reduce the chance of someone clinking their glass when they lift their knife. Otherwise, your guests will think it’s time for a toast.

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5. Whether you’re hosting a formal or informal dinner, always give thought to a seating plan and use handwritten place cards for a personal touch.

And here’s one more tip so you can enlist the kids to help. The words left and fork both have four letters, so the forks go to the left of the plate. The words knife, spoon, and right all have five letters in them, so the knives and spoons go to the right of the plate.

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Welcome Mashup

Welcome photo: Ava Gardner
Welcome quote: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939

Photo sources: Corbis, Carolyne Roehm, Austin Way

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