Are you planning a get-together, or an upcoming event, and you want to impress your friends and family? Then avoid these 8 common mistakes everyone makes when setting a table or planning your next gathering.
Don’t fail! Stand out and do it right!
Listed below are the eight biggest mistakes people make when setting a table. Unfortunately, I see them being made way too often. Bummer! They are so easy to avoid.
Table setting mistake #1 = Is your centerpiece too high?
I see this all the time! The table’s centerpiece and decorations are too high. Yes, your table might look gorgeous, but if your guests can’t easily see each other, your gathering is a fail.
It is an absolute pain in the patootie to try and see/talk to the people across from you through a beautiful flower arrangement. Your guests will be cocking their heads and straining to see each other. They won’t remember the attractive centerpiece, so much as how hard it was to carry on a conversation with their friends.
Avoid this table setting mistake! If you love your tall centerpiece, be sure and remove it when your guests sit down to eat. Don’t lessen their enjoyment of the event by needing to dodge your table decorations.
Table setting mistake #2 = Table too crowded for food
Unless you are hosting a meal where your guests will be served their food, don’t over-crowd your table with decorations. Make sure there is enough space for the food dishes. It is a real pain to move decorations, just to find a place to put the salad.
If your tablescape has wonderful table decorations, and really works with the theme of the gathering, have a separate counter (kitchen island, buffet table, or sideboard) for the food dishes.
Table setting mistake #3 = Not having the right (or enough) utensils
When you are planning your gathering, think about the food dishes that will be served and which utensils will be needed for them. If you will be serving steak, be sure and set out steak knives. If you will be serving soup, make sure there are soup spoons. It’s no fun to scramble to find additional utensils. Plus, it can delay the enjoyment of the meal.
Table setting mistake #4 = Not having salt and pepper, or more water and wine, easily accessible
It really sucks when everyone is seated and has started eating, to get up and retrieve the salt and pepper shakers. Be sure to have all the meal accompaniments easily accessible. If a guest doesn’t see it, they might not ask for it, but they will make a mental note that it wasn’t available. Or they will ask for it, and then you need to excuse yourself to go and get it.
Don’t make this easily avoidable table setting mistake. Have the salt and pepper, butter, water pitcher, and wine, easily accessible to everyone. Whether somewhere on the table, or on a surface close by.
Table setting mistake #5 = Not thinking of ambiance
Consider the lighting and feeling you want for your gathering. If it will be outside at night: will there be enough light? Are candles appropriate? Is your room too bright?
Ambiance really sets the mood of the gathering. Plan ahead to make sure you are setting the right mood.
Table setting mistake #6 = Using fragrant flowers and candles
Flowers and candles are wonderful to use and can really add to your table setting. When you are planning a sit-down gathering, don’t use pungent flowers or candles. Use beautiful flowers that don’t have a fragrance and candles that don’t have a scent.
You want your guests to enjoy and relish in the smells of the food, not the flowers or candles. Plus, the fragrant flowers will fight with the smells of the food. Some of your guests might be very sensitive to smell which will detract from their enjoyment of the meal.
Table setting mistake #7 = Not protecting your table
This is such an easy table setting mistake to avoid, but so often overlooked. Protect your table from spills, stains, or scratches by using a tablecloth, a table runner, placemats, or even attractive trivets. Think about the food you will be serving and what will work best to protect your table. Then think of ways to protect your table that will also add to the attractiveness of the tablescape.
If you will be putting the food dishes on the table, use a table runner or tablecloth to protect your table from any spills. Planning to serve a hot dish straight from the oven, make sure and use a trivet or two. This will prevent any damage to the table from the heat of the serving dish.
Table setting mistake #8 = Not correctly setting your table
A common mistake I see when setting a table is not setting it correctly. I even see this in beautiful photographs online. This tells me that the photographer set the table, not the person who wrote the article.
Don’t embarrass yourself; review my How to Set Your Dining Table article, and set your table like a pro. Your friends and family that know where utensils and dishes should go, will immediately notice if you haven’t correctly set your table.
Enjoy your next gathering by avoiding these 8 common table setting mistakes. Your guests will appreciate it.
Brilliant, Nicole! Your incorrectly set table is beautiful! :) I love all your tips, and keep thinking I’d love to see what you do with this table once you move the gorgeous tall centerpiece to the sideboard! :) Thanks for the really smart suggestions – it was great to find you through BNOTP!
Barbara ~ OMG! Thank you for the kind words!! I SO appreciate it. I didn’t think about it – but a “before and after” of this table is a great idea. Cheers!