When setting the table up for a dinner party, usually the most important thing going through one's mind in that present moment is making it look presentable and putting up a good spread. The food preparation is the main task of the day, because this is something one should have had planned carefully in advance. Whilst the food must taste good to each individual, food presentation is vital because it must be appealing to the eyes.
Buying good tableware does necessarily mean one needs to spend out masses amounts of money on expensive chinaware or dinner sets. It all depends on the kind of sets you buy, the style of the tableware and the quality of the material. These restaurant chefs opt towards simple decor, neutral colours and a variation in dinner sets. Many people do not choose to have starters in a restaurant and tend to gear towards a mains and a dessert.
Furthermore, restaurants do not always buy sets that are specific to the kind of meals you have, such as chefs do not always buy specially designed plates for starters only, and opt towards using mains dishes. Not all dishes come complete with a small plate. Soup starters are usually served on a large bowl, with a large rounded soup spoon that can often resemble a miniature ladle. These are normally white and made from fine china.
At a dinner party, the tableware you choose does not have to be so elaborate and expensive. This does depend upon the kind of guests you have invited, very often people choose to use the best set for the very special occasions such as wedding anniversaries, graduation celebrations or birthdays. For others one or more of these occasions could not justify using their best sets, therefore more than usual the sets tend to stay packed up in their boxes for years to come.
Informal dining gives more scope for creativity when using tableware, for example using large wine glasses for desserts, or odd shaped bowls for soups and starters. Some table settings are diverse enough to mix and match the colour scheme, perhaps by using blue plates set with red glasses and coated cutlery. The safer option is to use an inexpensive cream or white table cloth and plain looking dinner set. However, using plates that are black is also a great way of creating a more modern and chic look about the dinner table.
Ambient lighting is a great way of setting the mood for a romantic meal; however, if you do choose to use candles for a group dinner party then it is important you stick to using plain white table cloths so that people are able to see what they are eating. Silverware is a safe bet for cutlery. These do not have to be intricately designed, plain ones will suit any set design, although sometimes you may decide to use plastic edged or coated cutlery for that added luxury.
Centrepieces are good if they are small, otherwise they do take up a lot space on the table and get in the way of conversations with people at the opposite end. The growing trend these days is to put the food out on a plate for people in an impressive fashion, however in informal situations it is much more sociable to have a selection laid on the table for others to help themselves with. If you decide not to do a starter, whilst the guests wait for the food to be prepared it is worth investing in large platters whereby people can enjoy dipping into some pre-made canapes or finger food on napkins.
Anna Stenning is an expert at selecting the right tableware for an informal or formal dinner party, having organised many in the past.