Special Nonexistent Furniture

How to set a table

Whatever type of event you're throwing, having the right table setting can really set the mood. But how do you know what the right setting is? There are so many forks, knives and spoons for different jobs, and where's the right place to put them all? We take you through four types of dining table settings so you can present the perfect table every time.

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The formal table


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Reserve this setting for the fanciest of occasions; think weddings, a milestone birthday or a big celebration. Seeing as there are a fair few more utensils than you may be used to, make sure you leave enough space between settings so guests have enough elbow room and the table doesn't look overcrowded. Cloth napkins are your friend here, either folded into a simple rectangle or, if you've got the skills, origami'd into a plate-topping sculpture.

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The casual table

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While this might be a step up from your everyday dinner table, the casual setting is best used for when you're hosting guests for something more relaxed. Maybe you're having old friends around for dinner or welcoming someone home after a long trip away. Only one wine glass is necessary as this setting lends itself to sharing a bottle with the table, though you can switch out for specific red, white or champagne glasses depending on what you and your guests prefer. Cloth napkins are still your go-to here, but don't be afraid to casually drape them next to settings or use napkin rings for uniformity.

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The tapas table

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Tapas or share-style food is an increasingly popular way that Australians dine, but it definitely requires a different set-up. Having enough plates and serving cutlery for different dishes makes serving and digging in easier so you can focus on eating and chatting. Get creative with serving boards and platters to present your array of dishes and entice everyone to dig in. Make sure your small plates can be arranged to best serve the cuisine, and if you don't have enough space, it's more than okay to have a stack on hand nearby and swap them out as you need.

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The modern East Asian table

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With such a diverse range of Asian cultures in Australia, it's no surprise that Aussies are eating more and more Asian cuisine. This modern East Asian table setting encompasses the utensils needed for Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and other East Asian favourites. Depending on how you like to eat, you can be flexible with what you include and how you arrange this setting. If you're not savvy with a set of chopsticks, simply replace them with a fork and spoon. Some elements are essential to Asian dishes, however, like the shallow condiment bowls for dipping sauces and Chinese soup spoons which hold liquids and food better than Western soup spoons. If you're a fan of serving jasmine or green tea with your Asian meal, consider using the traditional Chinese or Japanese teacups so your beverage doesn't go cold before you can finish it; just top it up from the teapot when you're done. If you've got the table space, why not even add a Lazy Susan for the real banquet experience and easy access to your favourite dish!
Bridgette Sulicich 13 February, 2022

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