Table Setting Accessory Pieces You Might Be Missing
If you love entertaining, there’s nothing quite like setting the dinner table and pulling out all stops! One of the best parts about creating amazing tablescapes is using old-fashioned or “fancy” extras. Here’s some of the best table setting pieces you might not be using.
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Knife Rests – The Place Setting Essential You Didn’t Know You Needed
I first experienced these at a friend’s dinner party and found them delightful! Not only are they a nice way to add some sparkle to the place setting, they’re very practical. It’s really nice to have a spot to park your knife. We use ours at every meal because they’re THAT useful. They are without a doubt one of the best table setting pieces you can add.
What to look for when buying knife rests:
Pieces in good condition with minimal cracks or chips. Most knife rests are crystal or silver. It’s pretty easy to find these in sets of 8 or 12 but you can also mix and match if you like. Like many table items, there are options for every taste – formal, traditional, playful or holiday themed.
If you are serving a large cut of meat and carving it at the table, consider adding a larger lead knife rest to the tabletop. It’s the perfect spot to park the carving knife.
Setting the Table with Napkin Rings
Napkin rings are one of the most versatile table decorating items. It’s easy to find a style that reinforces your table design and adds personality to both the table top and each setting. Whether you choose a matched set of silver rings for a formal table or make them from ribbon, they’re sure to help your table shine.
For a formal table, it’s hard to beat a matching set of sterling or silver plated rings. These can match your flatware pattern or be a separate pattern. Most are round but there are also some fantastic square napkin rings. To keep the formal feel of silver but loosen things up a bit, use an assortment of silver rings. It can be really fun to add to your silver napkin ring collection, too.
If you want to set the table in a less traditionally formal style, use napkins rings made from wood, bamboo, glass or acrylic. Or any of the other multitude of materials. There’s a tremendous range and you’ll be sure to find just the right pieces to complement your theme.
For the most casual setting, use pretty ribbon, twine or cording to create loops or bows. It’s easy to add things like greenery or baubles to these to add more pop to your place setting. With this style, you can also easily incorporate a place card. For example, plaid ribbon with a bit of holly and a Christmas tag is a lovely way to adorn the Christmas breakfast table.
Think of napkin rings as table jewelry. Use them to establish or expand your theme, or even gift them to your guests as a lovely memento.
What to look for when buying napkin rings:
If you’re seeking out silver, the pieces should be in good condition and free from nicks or scratches. For other materials, the sky is the limit. You can find wonderful options in vintage or antique shops or new at most retailers.
Consider that your napkin rings are also a great way to reflect the individual personality of your guests, too. In our family, my mother-in-law collects antique silver rings. Whenever she hosts, each guest gets the napkin ring she feel best suits them. Some of them happen to have monograms that line up with family members’ names and others are just interesting or unique. This idea works well for just about any style of ring
Individual Salt Cellars and Pepper Shakers
The general rule of thumb for dinners is to have at least one pair of salt and pepper shakers for every two people. To take it up a notch, use individual salt cellars and pepper shakers instead. Salt cellars (also called ‘open salts’) and individual pepper shakers should be set at the top of the place setting. You can use tiny salt spoons for each cellar or you can leave guests free to pinch salt. Like the knife rests, these add a wonderful detail to the table but are also practical. Guests can easily salt or pepper their food without bothering their neighbors.
What to look for when buying open salts and individual pepper shakers:
Cellars are often crystal or glass, but they also come in silver or silver with a glass insert. The cellar should be able hold a tablespoon of salt easily. Look for a cellar that’s free from chips or cracks. Be sure the dish is not so narrow it’s difficult to pinch or spoon salt from.
Setting the table with place cards
You might read this and think.. ‘but place cards so so stuffy and formal”. I hear you, but they don’t have to be. It’s true that when you use a seating plan for your dinner party, it does lead to a more formal event. But that doesn’t have to mean dry and boring.
Here’s a few practical reasons to consider using a seating plan and place cards. First, many guests feel at ease when they know where you want them to sit and who they’ll be sitting near. Second, assigning seats makes your job as host easier. You can ensure you (and your partner or co-host) can easily get up and down from the table during the meal. You can also plan where to place food dishes or items that need to be passed.If you have a very hot dish on the table – you may want that close to your chair so your guests can pass their plate to you. Or you may have elderly guests or guests with limited mobility. Assigning seats means you can take their needs into account more easily and provide them with accessible seating options.
From a social standpoint, organizing your guests around the table can be the difference between a convivial evening and an exhausting slog. This is a great thing if you are hosting people who aren’t well-acquainted or family members that you KNOW push each others’ buttons. Don’t think of this as tiresome formality – think of it as helping to ensure your guests are as comfortable as possible for the meal. Arranged seating will give you the chance to put a guest of honor, if there is one, in a prime spot, too. And finally, knowing who’s going to be sitting where will make pouring beverages or plating food a snap before guests come to the table.
Now, onto the aesthetic value of place cards.
Gone are the days when place cards were simply plain white rectangles with the guest’s name in formal script. Though you can absolutely still do that if it fits with your event or meal. Today, place cards can be pre-printed with designs that match your table scape or event theme. They can be simple or quite elaborate. You can use actual single-sided cards or folded note cards. You can even use objects, like a tiny pumpkin or a Christmas ornament! Like napkin rings, place cards offer a chance to inject personality and personalization onto the table.
What to look for when buying place cards:
Just about the only requirement I can think of is that the cards be large enough for the guest’s name to be easily read and not so large that the obscure your guest’s faces. Beyond that, make sure you spell everyone’s name correctly and that the names are legible. It’s not absolutely essential, but it is nice to use card holders to secure them. These can also support your table theme or be holiday specific if you choose.
I’m not affiliated with them in any way but I adore the personalized place cards and menu cards from the Punctillious Mr. P. They’re gorgeous, they come in a huge range of styles and Mr. P. even offers complimentary digital calligraphy.
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