- Selecting dishes:
Since dishes are the most important part of the table setting and the most difficult to select one usually acquires them first and then looks for other things to harmonize with them. Whether one buys fine china or simple earthenware dishes much care should be given to their selection. Complete sets of dishes are not as popular as formerly. Even conservative china shops now approve of diversified table service of harmonious dishes. The service plates, salad plates, and dessert dishes are often different, but the dinner plates, bread-and-butter plates, and cups and saucers are usually alike. Dishes should not be too varied, however. However each place set at a table should look exactly like the others, as a rule.
Color: Refined colors usually belong with exquisite dishes and vigorous colors are suitable with simple or modern dishes. In planning a table setting, the color of the dishes and the food should be considered together. Adjacent color schemes are very successful in combinations of food, dishes and linens.
Texture: Texture in dishes refers chiefly to weight but it depends also upon the materials from which the dishes are made and upon the firing process. The only desirable surface texture for dishes is a very smooth one for sanitary as well as aesthetic reasons.
Design: In general the best forms in dishes are based on the circle and the sphere. The simpler structural forms have the pure continuity of line that delights the trained eye. Handles must be large enough to be held comfortably. The weight of any dish must be well balanced. The function of a dish helps to determine its shape.
Modern dishes are usually without ornamentation although some are well decorated. The decorative designs sometimes consist of a highly stylized motif, possibly a flower or fish, which appear in the center of the dish, without repetition.
Beautiful rounded contour lines with subtle curves are priced in articles made of glass. Interesting portions of spaces are important, too.
Glass articles of fine form and technical perfection need have no decoration, for the utmost beauty in them. When decoration is used it should be restrained and confined to a structural contour such as lines on the stem of a glass.
Molded or pressed ornamentation is a part of the inexpensive molding process by which most glassware is made. Much of it is too ornamental, and the convolutions are too deep. Silverware to accompany modern furnishings is usually interesting in line and had little or no decoration. Standard shapes are the most comfortable to use.
- Tablecloths and place mats:
A good looking table top, which has been made heat resistant, needs no cover of any kind.
- Expressiveness: Informality is the theme of most meals today; therefore table cloths have been replaced by small mats. Fabrics, fiber, wood, cork, plastic and water are used. Large damask linen cloths are still used for formal occasions and sometimes for buffet service. Other formal covers are made of embroidered linen, appliqué lace, or cut work, in white, cream, or very pale tints.
- Color: It is well to use brightly colored napkins and place mats or small tablecloths, especially if the glass-ware and dishes are colorless. The tablecloth sometimes acts as a link in color between the table and rest the rest of the room.
- Pattern: Decorative design is, of course, not necessary in table-cloths or mats, but if patterns are used they should preferably be stylized or geometric. Stripes, plaids, polka dots, or simple borders are the most attractive tablecloths.
- Flower Arrangement and Accessories
Flower arrangements needs to be suitable in type and size for the average dinning room table. The decoration should never interfere with the use of an object; one will plan table decorations which make it possible for persons sitting on opposite sides of the table to see one another. If, however, a table is so large that the people opposite cannot converse with one another anyway, as is sometimes the case at a banquet, the flower arrangements may be as large as seems desirable for the size of the table. Low bowls harmonize best with the shape of the table, and when high bouquets are used, they usually need to be brought into harmony with the line of the table by the use of transitional sizes or shapes, unless there are drooping lines in the flowers or foliage. Candlesticks may furnish the transitional line, or one may use a lower bowl of flowers on either side of a high banquet.
Materials: Flowers are the most popular of all table decorations because of their loveliness. Although flowers are ordinarily placed in the center of the table they may be put elsewhere. A long narrow table may have all the flowers along one side and the covers along the other. Low arrangements are desirable as they do not obstruct the view. Artificial fruit and flowers should not be used on the table or elsewhere.
Flower arrangements floated in shallow bowls or trays may be as beautiful as those of the conventional type. Some flowers lend themselves better to floated arrangements than others, for they need to have rather flat heads such as are found in water lilies, roses, and begonias.
Table decorations frequently include candles, often in combination with flowers. A mat is sometimes needed under the centerpiece of flowers, fruit, leaves, vegetables, porcelain, or any material. Accessories may also be used