Tips for Setting a Formal or Informal Thanksgiving Table

Setting the table for Thanksgiving guests need not be a chore. Check out our tips for setting either a formal or informal holiday table.


Setting a formal table is easier than you may think. Start by adding a tablecloth and runner, making sure that the tablecloth has at least a six-inch drop on all sides and that the runner is either the same length or shorter than the tablecloth. Then it's time for the place settings. Forks go to the left of the plate, and the knife (with the blade turned toward the plate) and spoon go to the right. Another tip is to place cutlery in the order that it will be used, with the first utensil, like a salad fork, furthest from the plate. To keep the table from becoming too crowded, simply bring dessert utensils out with that course. Bread plates go to the left of the place setting, glassware to the right. If there is more than one wineglass, arrange them in the order they will be used, outermost first. And finally, napkins can be placed either on top of the dinner plate or to the side of the plate.



Of course, a table setting need not be formal. Casual table settings work just as well and give you a chance to go bold with your color choices and really mix patterns. This table setting is an eclectic mix of colors and styles — a country-style plaid tablecloth paired with traditional damask-patterned plates. Although the styles vary, the colors are consistent — everything from the chargers to the glassware is in the fiery tones of fall and the overall look is relaxed. No need to buy items that are matchy-matchy, though — just use what you have on hand.

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