Take table setting for example. Did you know there is a right and wrong way to set a table? I say, unless the Queen of England or maybe Martha Stewart is coming to dinner, who cares!!?
BUT...and that is a big BUT. I do think creating a nice tablescape for people coming to dinner does tell them that you care about them and that you took the time to make your table look nice for them.
OK before you set your table, something to take into account if you want people to converse: think about the height of the centerpiece. You don't want people to be looking around a large piece or object to talk to the person on the other side of the table. Everyone needs a clear view of those at the table. You can even sit and make sure that everyone, no matter their height, can see everyone else at the table.
Personally I like round tables. Not only can you squeeze more people around a round table but they lend themselves better to conversation. Unfortunately I have a square table. It is inherited, like a lot of my furniture, from my maternal Grandmother. It came all the way from England on a boat with a buffet, server and china cabinet. All of which I still have. A lot of furniture for my little house but it is a family heirloom.
I don't host Thanksgiving but I still set the table, if I don't the kiddo's start asking questions. In our house our table is always decorated for something AND since I like dishes so much it is an adventure for me.
This is what our table centerpiece looks like this year.
I went for a walk in the woods and collected pine cones. The cake stand is from Southern Living at Home. The acorns are fake, Pottery Barn.
The wire stand the silver candelabra is on is also Southern Living at Home. The faux pumpkins are Hobby Lobby, on sale last year at the end of the season. The silver candelabra was my Mom's.
The little owls are actually candles from Home Goods. The black iron candle holder was a gift years ago. The place mats are Walmart, the napkins Pier One and the tablecloth is Bed Bath and Beyond. The white leaf bowls are Martha Steward from Macy's.
So now to setting the table. I did several kinds of settings. Again, do what you like, if it works for you it's GREAT! Don't stress about which side of the plate the cup goes on or if the napkin should be on the side or on top of the setting. Do what you think looks good.
For this setting I rolled the napkin and layered several dishes on top of one another. The soup bowl on top and the coffee cup is my good china. I like getting it out and using it. Why else have it?
Here is another angle.
In the next setting I rolled the napkin and put it in the water glass. That makes this more informal, but, I have a bread plate (the leaf plate - Walmart a few years ago) which makes it a more formal setting.
I really like mixing china. You can mix patterns and styles. The black plate is Home Goods, on sale, $2.00 each! My everyday plates are white. I like this because it is a blank pallet and anything goes! The bowl above is my everyday dish. The little shot glass is from Crate and Barrel. The silverware is my everyday, I don't own good silverware. The glass with the dark bottom (it looks black but it is actually purple) is inherited from my Aunt Kass.
Again, do what works for you, what you like. Everyone will love it.
If you want the setting to be correct though, there are books and websites you can go to for help.
If you Google 'how to set a table' then go images there are a lot of picture tutorials. The rules for setting a table a numerous. You can find rules for everything from which fork goes where or where to put the butter knife to which way the blade of the knives are supposed to face! Who knew?? (The blade should always point in toward the plate as the the example above). There are even rules about glass ware - in all the pictures I have shown you the glass ware is wrong, per the Google Images site pictures that is. But I like it, this works for me and I don't think anyone will notice that my coffee cup and drinking glass are out of order or on the wrong side of the plate. It is a right-handed world people.
So relax, shop the woods and decorate your table. Pine cones btw, make wonderful name tag holders, if you have assigned seats for your dinner.
Till Friday! Have a great rest of your week.