One of the challenges of entertaining is how to create a different look and feel for your table without having to spend a lot of money on all new decor. The good news is that by adding different table accessories, you can re-use the staples you already have (china and cutlery) and still create different types of looks for different events.
The trick is to use the colors and shape of your china and cutlery to help pick the right accessories (like place mats, table runners, chargers, napkins and napkin rings). Adding the “jewelery” of the table will help dress it up (or down) depending on what type of event your are hosting.
Keep reading t to see our 5 no-fail ways to create beautiful table settings (using what you have).
The Monochromatic Table Setting
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For the simplest of all table settings, match all of your accessories to the background color of your china (in this case, white).
Here a white place mat, white charger with an interesting shape and texture*, and and a white napkin all create a monochromatic, serene setting.
The gold napkin ring* ties in the cutlery color.
The Simple and Elegant Table Setting
To create the “Simple and Elegant” table setting, you will again use the colors of your china and cutlery as a guide to the accessories…the background color of your china will be the main color in the table setting with the cutlery color used as an accent.
Choose a place mat that matches the color of the background color in your china (in this case white) and a charger that matches the color of your cutlery (in this case gold).
Add the plates from your china.
The napkin and napkin ring can match either color…what ever you like best. In this case, the napkin is the same color as the china and the napkin ring matches the cutlery.
The Elegant With A Little Pizzazz Table Setting
The Elegant With A Little Pizzazz table setting uses the same basic structure as the Simple and Elegant table setting…a white place mat (matches the china) with gold charger (matches the cutlery) and white dinner plate (which is the china). The differences are in the top layer of the setting and a table runner.
A white table runner with gold edges is laid across the table (rather than lengthwise) so that it covers the place mat for table settings on opposite sides of the table.
The salad plate is swapped out for an accent plate* that still matches the background of the china but has a gold swirl pattern on it the pulls in the cutlery color. It also echoes the shape of the charger which adds uniformity.
Again, the napkin and napkin ring could be either color…in this case a white napkin and napkin ring that has hints of gold in the middle of the white flower.
The Elegant With Holiday Shine Table Setting
This table setting uses exactly the same set of dishes and cutlery as the last one, but replaces the white place mat with a gold velvet one, and exchanges the floral napkin ring for a gold butterfly (which is actually a Christmas tree ornament placed on top of the napkin).
The concept here is still matching the colors of china and cutlery, but using more of the cutlery gold than the china white in the color scheme.
This works especially well for dinners that tend to be a little more formal or festive, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s.
The Elegant With Drama Table Setting
Again using the same basic dish layout as the last two table settings, this one adds some drama by replacing some accessories with a contrasting color (in this case black).
The black charger* and black napkin add a lot of contrast against the gold place mat and white china…and the napkin ring adds a bit of “bling”. In this case the napkin ring is actually a chair sash pin, but works equally well when pinned to a napkin.
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This post was originally published on December 23, 2014 but was updated with new content on July 5, 2023.