How To Set An Instagram-Worthy Dinner Table

So you've decided to throw a dinner party. Congrats! Treating your friends to a homemade meal is a pretty major adulting milestone. Besides good food and interesting company, the one magical touch that transforms the occasion from a casual get-together to a classy AF soirée is the table decor. Needless to say, your college coffee mugs and disposable forks are not gonna cut it.

Setting a table may seem like a stuffy ritual reserved for weddings or formal banquets, but knowing how to present your feast can win you serious points as a host — and you don't exactly need elaborate bone china or crystal glasses to pull that off, all you need to do is follow a few basic rules on placements.

We've enlisted Rachel Parcell — founder of lifestyle blog Pink Peonies and one of the most enviable Instagrammers we follow — to show us how she puts together the perfect spread for her guests. Now it's up to you to whip up a good meal and show off your entertaining chops.

Photo: Courtesy of Pink Peonies.
Consider Using Table Linens

Tablecloths aren’t always necessary, but they can instantly elevate the look and feel of your spread. Plus, they help cover up any blemishes on your table. "You really can’t go wrong with a white linen tablecloth and matching napkins, " says Parcell. "Every type of food looks nice against a white — or light pastel — background."
Photo: Courtesy of Pink Peonies.
Play With Your Plates

The very first item to place on the tablecloth is the dinner plates, with a standard diameter of 10.4 to 11 inches. Position the dinner plate in the middle of each setting and have them equally spaced out.

Parcell prefers having a charger plate — a slightly larger decorative plate that sits under your dinner plate — to create a layering affect. They can be of a different finish or material to give a nice contrast. Then, fold the napkins and place them in the middle of the dinner plate. If you're feeling fancy, a handwritten menu and place cards are always a nice touch.
Photo: Courtesy of Pink Peonies.
Know The Right Order For Utensils

"Eating utensils should be placed in the order of how they are intended to be used, starting with the outside and working toward the plate," says Parcell. Proper etiquette dictates that forks should always go on the left and knives and spoons go on the right — with the knife sitting closest to the plate.
Photo: Courtesy of Pink Peonies.
Glasses To The Right

Water glasses always go to the right of the plate toward the center of the table. If you're serving wine, the wine glass should be next to the water glass above the knife.
Photo: Courtesy of Pink Peonies.
Throw In A Centerpiece

"All dinner parties call for a centerpiece in my opinion," says Parcell. Fresh flowers are always nice, but a cluster of candles or greenery are great alternatives that won't break the bank. Anything goes, as long as it doesn’t take away from the meal.

Whatever you choose to go with, make sure your centerpiece isn’t too tall. "You want your guests to be able to see everyone else at the table!" says Parcell.
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