create the perfect holiday table

Holiday Table 101

With the holiday season upon us, most of us will find ourselves hosting at least one dinner party or family get together. And, although they may be smaller this year, you still want to put your best efforts into making your guests feel welcome.

As with any dinner party, your food and hospitality takes center stage, but it’s always nice to set a beautiful and inviting holiday table. It makes everyone feel like you truly took the time make them feel special.

In addition to choosing the color scheme and table decorations, you will also be laying out the place setting for each of your guests. Did you know how you place your china, glassware and flatware are based on the formality of your dinner?

Informal Place Setting

diagram of an informal place setting

Formal Place Setting

diagram of an informal place setting

Ultra-Formal Place Setting with Multiple Courses

diagram of an ultra formal placesetting

Regardless of the formality of your holiday table, here are a few helpful hints:

  1. Each place should be set with all the glasses that will be used during the dinner, in the order they will be used.
  2. Only the bread plate and a charger (if you are using one) are actually part of the place setting, other pieces may be brought out as the course is served and should be cleared as the course is finished.
  3. When setting out the flatware, regardless of formality or course: set the pieces out in the order they will be used.
  4. It is perfectly okay to mix and match your china, glassware and flatware, but try to keep the same sort of formality with all the pieces. Also try to find a unified theme or color.

Caring for your table linens

And finally, keep in mind – a beautiful holiday table is based on beautiful linens – after the party is over, it’s also very important to make sure all your table lines are cleaned and stored properly, so the next time you entertain, you won’t be met with any surprises when you start setting the table. Professional cleaning will always yield the best results, but here are few helpful tips for treating various types of stains.

Holiday party clean up

Candle Wax: Gently lift off the larger pieces.  Treat with a solvent-based stain removal product, after treating wash it in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric.

Wine Stain: Lightly touch with an absorbent towel to draw up the liquid or put paper towels under the spill.  Blotting can spread the stain.  After dinner: rinse in cool water; treat with a mild detergent and white vinegar.

Coffee: Treat it the same as wine.

Salad Oil: This is the worst because it can yellow with age if not removed.  Cover a big spill at the table with absorbent powder.  Shake off after supper.  Apply a mild detergent mixed with household ammonia, ASAP.  Wait 5-10 minutes and wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.

Cranberry: Rinse with cool water and treat with a mild detergent and white vinegar before washing.

Time is of the essence

It is always best to wash stained items or take them to your cleaner as soon as possible.  If your table linens are colored or have colored embroidery check for colorfastness before using the various stain removal products.  Anytime a stain is not washed out before drying it can become more difficult to remove.


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