It has been a long time since I last saw a beautiful perfect table. Anyway, since I don't know anything about cooking, I thought that being able to have a beautiful table would at least give a better impression.
First of all: the tablecloth!
It is better to use a plain one but it can be coloured if it is for a dinner between friends.
If the dinner is a professional one, white is mandatory!
The tablecloth must fall on the table with a length of about 30 centimeters (such attention to detail that is fun to measure though).
Second: the plates!
Here comes the part the perfectionists like and the "I don't give a damn" persons hate.
Plates must be placed about 3 centimeters from the edge of the table. The space between them must be of round 40 centimeters for people to hear each other and not to bump into their neighbour's arm every four seconds.
There is only ONE plate. But you can add a plate for the soup if there is one or a plate for the bread which will be placed on the upper-left of the main plate.
Third: the cutlery!
The fork goes to the left and the knife on the right according to the hand which will use them. I argued with a friend for people who are left-handed as I am...but those are the rules...be brave left-handed companions!
The soup spoon goes next to the knife on the right.
In France the tradition makes it so that the fork and the spoon have their back turned towards the ceiling. English tradition is the opposite (hello there! the best frenemies!)
Fourth: the glasses!
Above the plate. To the left there is the bigger glass (for water), then the one for the red wine followed by the one for the white wine. Then comes the champagne flute. Water glasses must be filled when everybody sit down around the table!!
Fifth: the napkins!
The folded napkin are on the left of the plate. No paper towel!
Finish! You now have a perfect table (decorate according to the atmosphere you want to give, I trust you for the design!)... Now then time to fill our plates, I am going to go take some cooking lessons! Next time I will not burn my pasta!