How Does Martha Stewart Set the Table?

by June Farquhar
A beautiful table setting adds to the success of a dinner.

A beautiful table setting adds to the success of a dinner.

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Many seeking advice on how to set a table find Martha Stewart to be a reliable source of information. After opening her own catering business in 1972, Stewart wrote her first book, "Entertaining," in 1982. Since then she has become noted for other books and magazines as well as an award-winning television series, "The Martha Stewart Show," a radio program and several lines of home products.

Setting the Places

Silverware should be set on either side of the plate according to the order of the servings -- soup, fish, main course, salad, for example. The outside silverware (forks on the left and spoons on the right) is used for the first course, then work toward the plate with the next courses. These should be aligned with the bottom of the plate. Wine glasses are to the right for white wine and the center for red. Bread-and-butter plates are above the plate to the left.


Folding a napkin properly is important when you're setting a table. Napkin folds can be extravagant, but Martha Stewart has simple instructions for folding a napkin that will impress. Always start with a clean, pressed linen or cotton napkin. One way to fold a napkin that has a color border is to fold it in half diagonally to form a triangle, press it, then fold the two corners along the fold and press them. A place card or leaf can be inserted or laid on top of this envelope-shaped napkin.


All tables should have centerpieces and there are hundreds to choose from. It's important that the centerpiece is not so tall that it blocks guests from being able to see each other and carry on conversations. The centerpieces should also not be so bulky that they block access to bread, butter or condiments. A simple and elegant centerpiece described by Martha Stewart is the illuminating centerpiece that is made by placing a small glass vase inside a larger glass, pour tinted water between them and place a pillar candle inside the smaller one.

Holiday Themes

Depending on the season or holiday there are hundreds of themes that can be used for setting a table. Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day all have colors and themes that are associated with the events. The table's centerpieces, napkins and plates should match the theme. For Independence Day the patriotic theme can be subtle or celebratory, but the colors should always be red, white and blue. Start the fun by filling rectangular cellophane bags with blue candy drops to represent the stars (about 1 inch deep) and red and white candy sticks to represent the stripes. Tie the bags with red twine and place one at each setting.

About the Author

June Farquhar has been writing for newspapers and special publications in California since 1998. She's the recipient of a press club award for organizing and designing a 42-page "Red Ribbon Week" tabloid, which received recognition from the California State Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives. Farquhar studied newspaper journalism at Bakersfield College.

Photo Credits

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