Every Dinner Table Setting, Sorted
It's dinner time. From the relaxed casual dinner of dreams to the perfect date night setting, this is Liberty’s guide to your perfect dinner table.
We’re officially calling it – dinner is the most important meal. Not necessarily of the day. Just in general. It signals a winding down of the day’s flurry of activity, when we can briefly set aside that impossible-to-achieve balance of work, family, home and wellbeing, finally slow down and spend time with the ones we love. Dinner time is the culinary zenith of the day, when you might have a little more time to create something nutritious and comforting. You don’t have to settle for that squashed granola bar at the bottom of your handbag or having –yet another – drab lunchtime salad from that overpriced place round the corner.
Even the most laid-back dinner is an event, your time in the day for restoration and reconnection. Why shouldn’t something so important be beautiful too? That’s where our dinner table setting guide can help. From the quickest, ad-hoc evening meal to an all-in effort dinner, we’ve got the most important meal of the day covered with advice from Liberty’s Visual Concept Designer, Hannah Perse-Cottle.
The Casual Dinner
A casual dinner setting doesn’t need to be overly simple, and it certainly isn’t doomed to drabness. Whether you’re throwing something together for friends coming over at short notice or just want to elevate the food you’ve ordered in, your casual dinner table should be cosy, inviting and relaxed. Perse-Cottle advises that you don’t need to streamline the table to make it feel casual. Fun is key to a casual, unfussy table. “Coloured glasses and lots of pops of colour will make everything feel more relaxed, as will just the one knife and fork per person.” The same goes for candles, she says. “Long, elegant tapers in silver holders signal formality, so opt for fun colours and interestingly shaped candle-holders” to keep the table approachable and unintimidating.
The Date Night
The last thing you need on date night is more anxiety, whether you’re at the beginning ‘I’m still pretending I wake up like this’ stages or deep into a long-term relationship. Perse-Cottle says “set the place settings on a corner of the table or next to each other – it’s more romantic and allows you to be close together rather than sitting with the table between you.” To facilitate a great, stress-free date and minimal distraction, she advises against “too much clutter on the table. Keep it gorgeous and simple with just one lovely, statement plate. Something exciting and fun.”
The Formal Dinner
Finding the balance between formal and stuffy when you want to go all-out for dinner can be challenging, but Perse-Cottle suggests that a quick and easy way to elevate your table without going full silverware and starched collars is to add three glasses to each place setting. “This brings to mind silver service and a restaurant setting, but without any stuffiness or ceremony. This is also the perfect time for those beautifully long, tapered candles.” Keep lighting flattering, she advises – “turn your lights down low for that beautiful, candlelit dinner effect. It will instantly feel more formal and elevated.” Plus, your guests will thank you for the ultra-flattering candlelight effect.
The Mezze Night
You have a lot of people to feed, but you’d like to actually spend time with them rather than being stuck away in the kitchen. A sharing dinner is the easy answer but can be a more challenging table to beautify. “If you’re doing lots of sharing, you need plenty of space”, says Perse- Cottle. “I would opt for very ornate serving dishes, so every time something comes down from the kitchen, it feels really exciting and colourful.” A table with this much activity can be intimidating to design, she says “so I would focus on each person’s individual setting rather than a full tablescape.” You’ll need space on the table for food, so large floral displays are a no-go, but she suggests trying something different by going smaller and more personal. “I like to do tiny shot glass-seized containers filled with flowers at each person’s setting. It’s very cute and really makes the table beautiful.”
The Al Fresco Dinner
For eating outdoors, Perse-Cottle advises merging beauty with practicality and playing it safe with more robust, less breakable dinner and glassware. You’re contending with weather and people have more of a tendency to get up and move around when eating outdoors. There’s no need to feel confined by tradition or be conservative with colour or pattern, though. “Plastic cups and candlesticks can be really beautiful and more hard wearing, as can terra cotta plates or enamel, and you can have a lot of fun with colour.” She suggests modelling your table on one item that you love – like a tablecloth or serving dish – and picking up on colours in that item with everything else on the table, from glassware and napkins to floral displays.