How to set a great casual table


Create the perfect atmosphere for a casual dinner party with warm touches and a simple centerpiece. Floral and interior designer Rebecca Cole shows you how to set a great casual table for four.

How to set a great casual table

Here are some great unique tips on how to set a casual table arrangement with some personality and flair:

  • Use a large tile as a place mat instead of a regular place mat. It defines the space with a bit of surprise.
  • A large plate goes right on top of the tile. The napkin can be folded right into the empty water glass.
  • Instead of flowers for a centerpiece, try placing a low metal rectangular planter filled with wheatgrass in the center of your casual table setting. You can grow wheatgrass yourself at home in ten days with some seeds and water.
  • Take some low votive candles and places them in the wheatgrass to give the setting a warm glow. If you still want to use tall taper candles at a casual party, you can keep them off to the side. 
  • Be creative and have fun when planning a casual table setting. The point is to make it comfortable so you and your guests can relax and enjoy the meal. 



Hi, I’m Rebecca Cole for howdini, and I’m going to show you how to set a really nice, casual table with a little bit of personality and flair.

I would start with a nice beautiful tile; one that I designed would probably be the best: this beautiful anemone. The reason I like tiles as a place mat is, it really kind of defines your space: It’s a bit of a surprise. And I’m going to put everything on this tile that belongs to the person sitting here.

So next we’ll put a nice big dinner plate, a little pretty salad plate. You know, if you have a beautiful plate like this or you have this tile that makes a little bit of a tight squeeze, and you can’t fit the napkin on, just put your napkin right inside the water glass. I think it’s very casual and festive. Put another glass there that will fit. Then just set your table right on the tile, because we want it to be casual. We want to have a casual kind of flower arrangement or bouquet.

I do still love candles. I like votives for a luncheon party, so I put these little pretty brown votives that match our plates. I love these little decorative glasses because once we light them you can really see through. Let me show you. You can really see the design through there. And then that light just peeks through the grass.

The grass, I just planted in a little tray and it’s just wheat grass. It takes about 10 days to get it to this point. It couldn’t be easier; just plant the seeds and water and have it be in a nice little light spot. You can put a few off the table. Actually let’s put some back here because it’s nice to sort of tie in the background.

If you want to, use big, tall, dramatic tapers — even at a casual party, or when you’re setting a table for four or you don’t like the idea of having to look through the big candles. Here we have this extra large table, table for four, put all the candles off to one side.

Okay, now we just need the food.
I’m Rebecca Cole for howdini.

meet theexpert
  • Rebecca Cole

    Rebecca Cole Floral and Interior Designer Rebecca Cole is now one of the most in-demand interior and landscape designers in the country and has been declared a 'stylish, urban horticulturist' by New York Magazine and a 'garden guru' by the New York Post. more about this expert »

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