Dinner Diva: The perfect holiday table setting

dinner diva leanne elySetting a proper dinner table is a simple thing and one that will make you feel like the elegant hostess you are.

We’re talking specifically holiday meals today, but you can start making dinner an occasion every day. Not just on a holiday.

Yes you can even break out the good china and crystal for a Tuesday supper if you like but that’s not necessary! ;) It is important to know how to set a table and in turn, teach your children how to as well. Etiquette is becoming a lost art, so let’s try to keep it alive!

Start with some nice clean linens. You don’t necessarily need a tablecloth for your everyday dinners, but it’s a surefire way to hide a less than desirable table! And for sure use cloth napkins—they’re lovely and make everyone feel like a special guest.

The dinner plate goes in the center of the placemat with the folded napkin set to its left. The bread plate should go above the napkin. If you’re serving salad, place the salad plate on top of the dinner plate.

Place your forks on the napkin, salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. Your dessert fork and spoon will go above the dinner plate. Set the dinner knife to the right of the dinner plate with the blade facing in. To the right of the knife, place the teaspoon. If you’re serving soup, the soup spoon goes to the right of the teaspoon.

The water glass goes to the top right of the plate, with the wine glass to its right.

Now, sit back and admire this beautifully set table!

I challenge you to learn how to make dinner an occasion that your family looks forward to every single day. Sitting down together to share a meal and to talk about your day is a ritual to be cherished, not just on holidays. :)

Here’s a recipe that you’ll love for any occasion.  Enjoy!


Allspice Pear Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6


  • 2 pounds lean pork tenderloin, cut into 6 cutlets
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine, or use white grape juice with a splash of cider vinegar
  • 1 cup chopped pears
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Season pork tenderloin cutlets with allspice and garlic; cover and set aside for 15 minutes. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add pork and brown on both sides (5 to 10 minutes), turning only once; remove from skillet and set aside. Add the onions to the skillet and sauté until becoming translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by almost half. Add wine (or juice/vinegar), pears and cornstarch; stir and simmer for 2 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Return cutlets to the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes or until cooked through. Serve pork with sauce.

Leanne Ely is a NYT bestselling author and the creator of SavingDinner.com, the original menu planning website, bringing families back to the dinner table for over 15 years.