15 Table Settings That Are Sure to Impress

Set the scene for an unforgettable feast with a beautiful table setting. Our tips will help you dress your table to impress — whether you're hosting a formal dinner party or a casual get-together.
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July 15, 2015

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©Copyright 2013, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Stacey Brandford Photography

©Rustic White Photography

Photo By: She-N-He Photography

Photo By: Jason Kisner © 2013, DIY Network/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Celebrate the Season

Weather permitting, take your party outdoors and dress the table with seasonal elements — like pumpkins, gourds or acorn squash, used here as vases, and in-season flowers. HGTV.com's own Liz Gray created this rustic table setting at the bucolic Swag Country Inn near Waynesville, N.C. Get more of Liz's tips for hosting a rustic, outdoor dinner party.

Place Settings, Perfected

Setting an impressive table is a snap when you know the basic layout. Start with the dinner plate, topped with the salad plate. The knife and spoon go to the right of the plate, the fork and napkin on the left. Above the plate, wine and water glasses go on the right with the dessert fork and spoon directly above. Design by Manvi Drona-Hidalgo, photo by Lawrence Luk

Pick a Palette

Designer Erinn Valencich sets the stage for an oh-so-chic get-together by layering rustic elements with glamorous touches like gold-rimmed crystal plates, gilt-lined votives and an antique French settee. Low centerpieces of tightly bunched burgundy and chartreuse flowers pop against the room's rich aubergine palette.

Break Out the Good China

Designer Sarah Richardson makes setting a formal table look easy. For her signature collected-over-time look, she pulls together vintage china, silverware and linens. If you weren't lucky enough to inherit the makings of a stunning table, you can pick them up for bargain-basement prices at thrift stores, flea markets and estate sales.

Cleverly Use What You Have

This fashion-forward table setting by Manvi Drona-Hidalgo certainly looks luxe but it has a budget-friendly secret — what looks like a wide fabric table runner is actually a leftover piece of Graham and Brown wallpaper. Other money-saving swaps to consider: Use a flat sheet as a tablecloth or patterned card stock as a placemat.

Bring the Outdoors In

No table is complete without a centerpiece. For a seasonal arrangement, clip greenery from your own backyard. Rather than an over-the-top floral arrangement in a tall vase, keep the arrangement low so guests can see each other and chat across the table. Craft your own arrangement with our ideas for 15 centerpieces for any occasion.

Mix It Up

You don't have to own perfectly coordinating china to set a beautiful table, mismatched pieces look great together and give your table a welcoming, casual feel. To mix patterns like a pro, vary the scale using large, medium and small designs but repeat at least one color to tie the pieces together.

Have Fun With Place Cards

Show guests to their seats with these easy-to-craft paper pennants. To make them, cut wooden skewers in half then wrap long strips of scrapbook paper around the top of the skewer, gluing the ends of the paper. Create the classic pennant shape by notching the paper, then add your guest's name and secure the flag in a tea cup filled with seasonal fruit, nuts or small foil-wrapped chocolates.

Incorporate Natural Elements

Rustic, natural elements continue to be a popular choice for setting your table setting apart from the pack. Shop online for birch bark sheets to use as a charger and cut birch rounds to top plates — or scavenge your own backyard to see what freebies Mother Nature is offering up. See more of this woodsy table setting.

Mix Splurges With Saves

Designer Sarah Richardson pairs high and low elements — the brass candlesticks are thrifty finds and the china is vintage Royal Doulton — to create a table setting that is beautiful, balanced and not-too-fussy.

Go for the Glitz

Add an extra bit of glamour to your place settings by doubling up fabric napkins then tying them off with a wide piece of grosgrain ribbon secured by a vintage brooch. Shop estate sales and thrift stores for bargain baubles, selecting a variety of pins that have a color, shape or theme in common. Styled and photographed by Manvi Drona-Hidalgo.

Get Kids Crafting

DIY your way to a colorful table with a little help from the kiddos. Just select 4 acrylic craft paint colors that coordinate with your party's color scheme, let kids dip their finger into the paint, one color at a time, then press it onto a plain white table runner. Allow the paint to dry between colors so kids can overlap their fingerprints for a fun polka-dot effect. Get more tips with our step-by-step instructions.

Put the Rule of Three to Work

Designers have long relied on the rule of three when creating a balanced interior but this rule works just as well when setting the table — and best of all, it's easy to follow. Pick one element and repeat it three times. Here, the same amber color is used in the placemats, napkin and centerpiece, creating a sophisticated, pulled-together look.

No Tablecloth Required

Instead of tossing leftover fabric scraps, put them to use as narrow table runners you position across the table widthwise instead of lengthwise. For a no-sew solution, just slightly fray the runner's cut sides by pulling loose threads and leave the unfinished selvage ends instead of hemming. See more of this rustic tablescape.

Less Can Be More

This chic table setting by designer Camille Styles proves that a beautiful table doesn't have to be complicated. For a clean look, she used a basic white tablecloth and plates then popped in color with striped fabric napkins and a gorgeous peach and chartreuse centerpiece. Photography by Michael Bullock

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