How to: Set an informal table

Setting a proper table is a perfect way to elevate even the most casual meal.

What You Need
Table, placemats, dinner plates, salad plates, napkins, flatware, glasses, salt and pepper shakers, casual centerpiece

Follow These Four Easy Steps

Time Inc. StudiosTime Inc. Studios1. Set placemats, plates, and napkins

Lay one placemat at each person's place, so that the mat's bottom edge rests an inch or two from the edge of the table. To create the first place setting, rest a dinner plate on top of the placemat. Center a salad plate on top of the dinner plate. Fold a square napkin in half lengthwise, creating a rectangle, and place it directly to the left of the dinner plate.

Time Inc. StudiosTime Inc. Studios2. Place flatware on both sides of the plate

Begin on the left side of the plate, laying the salad fork on top of the napkin, toward its outer edge. Place the dinner fork to the right of the salad fork. Place the knife to the right of the dinner plate. The teaspoon goes to the right of the knife. The bottom of each piece of flatware should be aligned with the bottom of the dinner plate. (Watch a video on How to Store Silverware and China.)

Aha! Make sure the knife's blade points toward the plate. It's often considered impolite to allow blades to face outward toward other diners.

Time Inc. StudiosTime Inc. Studios

3. Choose and place glassware

Place the water glass directly above the top of the knife. To its right, and slightly down toward the spoon, place the wine glass.

Tip: Feel free to use tumblers in place of wine glasses for an informal meal -- and it's fine to mix stemmed and stemless glasses and different patterns and colors.

Time Inc. StudiosTime Inc. Studios4. Finish with salt and pepper and flowers

Place salt-and-pepper shakers near the center of the table, and add a cheery, simple flower arrangement for decoration.

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3 Easy Centerpieces
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