Formal dining tables are like the human body. They must be maintained, polished, and dressed with care and consideration to look their best. When throwing a formal dinner, the hostess must do her best to make sure her dining table looks as beautiful as possible while maintaining its functionality. So, we’ve gathered 13 tips that will help you plan your next formal dining table decor scheme.


1.. Do not place any decoration on the table that is so tall that it prevents guests sitting on opposite sides of the table from seeing each other. This would effectively prevent them from having any sort of conversation. You will basically be alienating them from a whole section of the table, stifling the flow of conversation. It may even encourage a bold guest to get up and remove the decoration from the table himself. You should never put yourself or your guest in such a position. And yes, the above incident has happened before, to the embarrassment of the hostess.

2.. Do not use fresh fruits in your decoration. Although fresh fruits seem the perfect addition for a formal dining table scheme, they are not. If they are fruits grown properly, they will have scents that may clash with the food on the table. Also, the heat of the room as well as the odor of the food may change their scents. So, to prevent any unforseen problems, like nausea in reaction to a scent, it is best to avoid fresh fruits.

3.. Do not use strong-scented flowers. Yes, flowers are great additions to table centerpieces, but you must be careful which flowers you choose. There are flowers that release heavy and strong scents. These flowers you should avoid. You never know how scents will react with each other. And you don’t want the heavy scent of a flower to ruin the odor of your food. These types of combinations have been known to cause nausea, headaches, and distraction. Why put your guests through such discomfort if you can avoid it?

4.. Do not use scented candles in your dining room. You can use them in other parts of your home, but not in the room you will serving your dinner. As with flowers and fruits, you do not know how their scent will react with the scents of the food you will be serving.

Also, you don’t want a candle’s scent to eliminate the mouth-watering scent of your food. This is very important because the scent of cooked food helps to increase appetite. And increased appetite is definitely something you want at your dinner.

FORMAL DINING TABLE DECORATION: 13 DONT'S5.. Do not cover the entire middle section of your table with decoration. There is a new trend of covering every free space on a table with some sort of decoration – vines, candles, fruits, flowers, and etc. This is excessive and should be avoided at all cost. Although it may look good in photos, sitting in a jungle is not much fun, especially when your glass of wine gets caught among vines, causing you to spill wine on the table.

Please remember, clutter is not elegant. And it is not functional. You want your guests to be able to see their table setting. You don’t want them to be fighting with your decoration or pushing it away when they should be focusing on how exceptional the food and company are. You also should be considerate enough to help them avoid any embarrassing moments due to your decoration scheme.

6.. Unless your guests are of the earthy kind, do not put flowers and leaves on plates, in glasses, or around silverware. You never know if someone is a germophobe, allergic to plants, or just doesn’t like nature.

Flowers and leaves tend to have bugs and other things that make many people cringe. You don’t want that to be on your guests’ mind when they look at your table setting. You don’t want them to be wondering if you cleaned the flower before you placed it on their plate. You don’t want them to wonder if a bug is going to climb out of the flower and onto their plate.

7.. Do not mismatch your table decoration, unless you are going for an eclectic look. For example, if you use very formal silverware, don’t use informal rustic vases for your centerpieces. If you use silver utensils, do not use gold vases, unless your plates have a mixture of both colors. If your centerpiece features lots of pink, don’t use blue menus. Try to match your colors. It’s much more pleasant on the eyes.

8.. Do not use a table cloth that is too big for your table. If the table cloth falls onto the floor where your guests will be sitting, do not use it. You don’t want a guest to accidentally step on it or pull it. This can cause really embarrassing situations like your entire table setting being dragged off the table. Please do not put your guests through such a predicament, or even through the discomfort of thinking about it. This anxiety will prevent you and your guest from truly enjoying yourselves.

9.. Do not use flowers and leaves that have not been washed and checked for bugs. If you decide to make your centerpieces with flowers cut from your own garden, please make sure to rinse and dry them first. You don’t want any creepy crawlies to be running loose around your dinner table.

FORMAL DINING TABLE DECORATION: 13 DONT'S10.. Do not place accessories in the tableware setting that will not be used for dining. The exception to this rule is the menu. Yes, the little accessories that are now trending, like flower wrapped place cards, are indeed cute. So, leave them for informal dinners. For formal dinners, avoid all unnecessary clutter. You will already be filling your table with twice or even, thrice the amount of tableware and silverware. There’s no need to add more.

These little accessories that many hostess’ like to put on top of plates or on the table look beautiful when guests haven’t arrived yet. But when they do and it is time to eat, guests must place these accessories somewhere. Some may be unsure what to do with them. Some will put them on their lap. And some will put them in the center of the table, cluttering your center decor.

11.. Do not ever use dirty table linens or linens that are so stained, they look dirty. Always make sure you have enough time to properly launder or replace your linens. So, please do not wait to the last minute to check your linens.

At least one week before the event, you should be checking the condition of the table linens you will be using. Are they clean? Do they have stains? Have they yellowed? Do they have holes? Do they smell weird? Do you have enough? Are they the right style, size, and formality?

12.. Do not clutter your table with your tableware. This is not as much of a decoration problem as it is a table setting problem. But we will still mention it here because your table setting does affect the overall look of the table.

Know that there needs to be enough space between each individual table setting for a table to look elegant. This is important for many reasons. First, you don’t want your table to look cluttered. Second, you don’t want your guests to be confused at where their setting ends and their neighbors’ begin. Third, you don’t want there to be any embarrassing collisions. If you place your guests’ tableware settings too close to each other, there may be arms colliding, utensils dropping, and plates knocking.

When setting the table, you must always be aware of your guests and plan their comfort. You don’t want to ever crowd your table or your guests. This can be claustrophobic. So, if your table can only contain 8 individual table settings, don’t try to push in 10. Stick to 8 or buy a longer table and use a larger dining room.

Also, if you want to add more people, try using less tableware. The more courses you serve, the more tableware you will need. If you decrease the number of utensils and wine glasses you use, you will decrease on the width of your setting.


13. Do not have your table decoration scattered all over the table. Make sure they line up. When you are finished decorating your table, you should stand at the end of it, and look to see if they are lined up. Do this standing straight and then bend down to where your head is table height. Then move to the side of their table, several feet back, and look to see if your main centerpiece is in the center. Then look at the other pieces up and down the table. Are they centered in their spot?