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Table Setting Ideas For Any Occasion

Table setting may not be the first thing you see at a dinner, but it’s definitely the most important. It creates a certain atmosphere and becomes the focus of an entire decor. Setting a table isn’t difficult. All you need is a theme or a color palette and some centerpieces to make it look more festive or interesting.

You don’t need to be formal at a family gathering, but if you want you can always play with different table settings to give your occasion a little bit of that special feel.

Formal Table Setting Ideas

Formal table setting
Formal table setting via Gabriela Canorubio

Formal table setting is arranged around a service plate topped with a dinner and possibly a salad plate. Salad and dinner forks go to the left of the plate while spoons and a knife to the right side. Dessert cutlery is set in between, behind the plates.

Water and wine glasses are placed at the right side and a bread plate and a napkin go left. Variations are possible for dinners and parties, weddings and holiday get-togethers.

Dinner party table setting
Dinner party table decor via The Celebration Society

For instance, if you’re serving a simple dinner without all three courses, set a big serving plate that would fit everything from salad to meat. If you are offering more than one type of wine place appropriate glasses at the right of the plate. And if there is a possibility a guest doesn’t drink, a juice glass may be in order. It’s important to always consider the appropriate utensils for what you’re serving.

Centerpieces and candles are the best decorations for any occasion. So if your table setting is quite modest try adding green pots or candleholders to the arrangement to liven it up.

Blue wedding table setting
Blue wedding table setting via Coco Chic Deco

Formal table settings often come in a white color palette, but a monochromatic blue is the next best thing as it looks elegant and fresh.

Light tablecloth and napkins are beautifully emphasized by dark blue glasses and silver cutlery in this arrangement. And the white floral centerpiece adds charm to the formal blue color palette.

Table Setting Color Schemes

Party table setting
Party table via Crate and Barrel

You don’t have to follow rules to a T. Your setting and decor don’t have to be impeccable. Creative chaos may look more inviting and homely.

Here imperfect coral pink flower arrangements are accented with a bright blue table runner and statement trivets. The look is finished with striped napkins and blue and rose wine glasses.

Blue and pink table setting
Blue and pink table setting via Life Chic

This year’s main color duo, blue and pink, always look nice together especially in such sophisticated shades as these. The rose gold cutlery looks rather fancy; occasional white accents don’t distract from the gentle color scheme.

With such statement metallics additional decorations can be minimal although a few sprigs of lavender or another matching bloom add their charm to the decor.

Colorful table setting
Colorful table setting via Gewoon by Suus

The key to great table decor is to find a balance between functionality and appearance. Too many floral centerpieces may not only attract unwelcome flier visitors to your table but also obstruct the view of your guests.

It’s not only about color combination; it’s also about allowing your guests a bit of freedom at the table. Too many decorations isn’t a good thing.

Pastel Table Color Palettes

Pastel wedding table setting
Pastel wedding table decor via Vale and Divine

Statement table arrangements can easily be used without any additional accessories. Because they bring a lot of detail and color to the table you can get away with simpler tableware and cutlery.

Here a pastel serving plate is accented with golden flatware, but the main decor element is a big floral arrangement in the center of the table.

Pastel table setting
Pastel table decor via The Finer Gazette

Pastels can be beautifully accented by dark details like in this table setting. This creates a nice dynamic in the look without making it too airy or dramatic.

Here the decor accents are subtle. Beautiful light pink flowers echo the pale pink tablecloth and the golden-rimmed white tableware looks not too modest but also not overly ornate.

Dramatic Table Decor Ideas

Blue and purple table setting
Blue and purple table setting via Fab Mood

Dramatic color schemes always look great in table decor. Whether you’re throwing a wedding or a friendly dinner there’s a certain allure in dark tablecloth and tableware.

Here the dark blue tablecloth and purple napkins create a backdrop for rose gold cutlery and white and purple floral arrangements.

Gold & emerald green
Gold & emerald green via Sugar Branch Events

Gold and emerald green must be the best holiday color scheme for a table setting. It’s lavish and festive. It is most definitely versatile as you can use it for a wedding, a New Year’s Eve, and even a birthday party.

This wedding table decor is accented with glittered champagne glasses, glittery chevron runner, and incredible clear serving plates. In addition the floral arrangements liven up the decor with gentle pink and white roses.

Blue table setting
Blue table decor via Little White Book

Blue of any shade will easily bring nautical/coastal vibe to the area. Add in yellow and wooden accents and the beach atmosphere won’t leave you the entire evening.

Unusual serving plates is a great way to accent each guests’s place and create an absolutely unique table setting.

Holiday Table Setting Ideas

Thanksgiving table setting
Thanksgiving table setting via So Haute Style

Here is the simplest holiday table setting that looks both elegant and inviting. There is a statement centerpiece in the middle of the table and matching glasses that provide both functionality and decoration.

Green and blue plates are echoing the general color scheme. And small seating sign holders are too small to overwhelm or clutter the table decor.

Easter table setting
Easter table setting via Wit and Delight

Here the table setting is used as accents to a white background. White tablecloth and chairs provide a great clean slate on which any combinations are possible.

Since many different blooms are available in spring this monochromatic table decor could be set in yellow, blue, green or red.

Christmas table setting
Christmas table setting via Good Housekeeping

Christmas table decor is all about golden accents and fir, really. The latter can make a nice table centerpiece; you don’t even need to decorate it much.

Gold instantly brings festivity to the yard, home, and table. But if your’re afraid that it’s too boring opt for a statement trivet or a plate pattern that will spruce up your setting in a bit.

Backyard NYE party table setting
Backyard NYE party table setting by Nouba

Unusual tableware is a nice way to mix things up. These brass plates look incredible especially contrasted with black bottle candle holders and matching metallic candles.

These colors and textures immediately dress up the old wooden table and create a very festive atmosphere in the backyard.

Valentine's Day table setting
Valentine’s Day table setting by Studio Lab Decor

No need to scratch your head over how to reuse that tacky Valentine-themed tableware or decorations. Make do with what you have employing your imagination.

Here Studio Lab Decor created an impressive floral arrangement that became the focus of the table setting and accented it with golden cutlery and a heart-folded napkin.

Unusual Centerpiece Ideas

Table setting with succulent centerpieces
Table setting with succulent centerpieces by Studio Lab Decor

When flowers aren’t available succulents can rescue the evening. Paired with lotus pods, orchids, and other blooms colorful succulents make for an amazing centerpiece material.

If you have potted succulents they will also do as will, in fact, many other decorative home plants.

Wedding table setting
Wedding table with greenery and white flowers via Vineyard Bride

Lush greenery is a current trend in wedding decor and it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular. Flowers are much more expensive and they are wilting quickly. Leafy green plants, on the other hand, are very varied and can be quite beautiful too.

A single floral centerpiece will not look too modest if you flank it with some statement green plants and matching decorative fabric.

Thanksgiving table setting. Kathryn McCrary Photography
Thanksgiving table setting by Jenn Gietzen. Kathryn McCrary Photography

Instead of labouring over table centerpieces lay down filler plants and blooms in a neat line in the middle of the table. This will prevent any obstruction keeping the greenery on one level with the plates.

You can also use fruit and vegetables for table arrangements, which works well in Thanksgiving and Christmas decor.

Moss-covered table
Moss-covered table via Viitoare Mireasa

When all the options are exhausted and your soul demands decor like no other it’s time to undertake drastic measures. This moss-covered table looks breathtaking and out of this world. Surely it may not be the most practical or convenient table decor, but it’s unreservedly impressive.

Despite rules and tradition table decor allows a lot of room for creativity. Great choice of tableware designs, tablecloth prints, and floral arrangements makes for countless possible combinations. Keeping it balanced and functional is the key.


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