Sitting down at their table is often the first chance that guests have to relax and take stock of everything. Make sure they're suitably impressed with a pretty place setting - the perfectly chosen one can make all the difference to how your table looks and you can have a little fun with them too.

Catherine Gratwicke

MORE TABLE PLAN TIPS

Instead of going overboard with elaborate menus and place card designs, use coloured or preppy patterned ribbons to add decoration. A folded napkin is a quick and easy way to make sure your place settings look neat and tidy, and it gives the table a stylish, finished-off feel. We love!

UNUSUAL STATIONARY IDEAS

Menu; from £1.45, by www.dottiecreations.com; striped ribbon, £5.75 per metre, www.vvrouleaux.com; place name, £1 each, by www.dottiecreations.com; napkin; £2.50 each; cutlery, 50p per piece; dinner plate, 19p each; gold-rimmed wine glass, 91p each; Stemless sommelier glass, 57p each; champagne flute, 82p each, to hire, www.joneshire.co.uk; votive, from £3 each, to hire, www.paularooney.co.uk; succulent, £3 each, www.paularooney.co.uk; striped table runner, £6 per metre, www.ikea.com; tablecloth, £7.90, to hire, www.co-ordination.net and small arrangement in urns, (Princess Charlene, Caramel Antike, Cream Piaget, Sweet Perfumella, Irish Hope, Chandos Beauty, Margaret Merril David Austin and Edith David Austin roses), from £75, supplied by www.realflowers.co.uk and designed by www.paularooney.co.uk