1. Where to Set the Table
  2. How to set the table
  3. Choosing the tablecloth
  4. How to decorate the table
  5. Plates, glasses and cutlery: what tableware to use

The aperitif is now for everyone the ideal situation to get together with friends in a more informal and fun way than a classic dinner party. More and more people prefer this gathering time to dinner: the secret of the success of the aperitif lies in the extreme freedom that everyone has to move around to chat with different people, as well as to drink or nibble something without the obligation to stick to a set menu. Not only that, the flexible timetable is also a good point, especially if you decide to organize an aperitif at home, which allows us to host friends with simplicity, without heavy preparations in the kitchen and more chances to enjoy the good times with friends.
What is the secret to organizing an aperitif or "apericena" that makes everyone feel good?
Mine is to have a minimum of prior organization, with good equipment, a few easy recipes and the ability to anticipate different needs, which will allow you to be able to sit and chat while sipping a glass with your friends.

Where To Set The Table For The Appetizer.

Let's start at the beginning, the aperitif is by definition an unserved refreshment, at a conventionally set table. Therefore, the first rule is to simplify, subtract elements and choose an informal, relaxed situation, without unnecessary complications: remember that the main ingredient of a good aperitif is company. So look for an area where guests can move around freely, you can of course invite friends home, but I have had very successful aperitifs in the most diverse places, from an aperitif on the beach at sunset, to the pastures of an alpine pasture, to an aperitif on a boat and even in an African desert! This is just to tell you that the more imaginative and original you are, the more memorable your aperitif will be.

Plan to accompany the drinks with something to eat, also because it is never good to serve alcohol to be consumed on an empty stomach.If there are many of you, a good idea would be to provide two different stations for the drinks or peThe place you choose will naturally give you some ideas for the style of the table as well, so if at the beach you have the opportunity to spread a nice tablecloth, light some lanterns and maybe even improvise a gauze awning that screens from the sun you will already have a perfect set. But let's go back now to the easiest scenario, that you make the invitation at home. If you have a nice living area or, during warm weather, a livable terrace or garden, what better opportunity to enjoy the sunset hour by using multiple support tables scattered between the interior and the terrace. Improvised tables, which you will cover to make them elegant, are also fine, or alternatively you could serve the aperitif directly on low tables placed in front of the sofas.

Table on the beach Table on the beach Table on the beach

In case you decide to use your dining table for support, the first thing to do is to move the chairs away from it so that it can be used as a buffet. If you have the possibility, position it in a way that makes it easy for everyone to access, so better to have fairly large spaces that don't force your guests to line up at the table to serve themselves or the food or to think about different support points where you can distribute different trays and appetizers.

How To Set The Table For The Appetizer?

Since it is not a dinner party, what should I do? Do I set the table? The bare table can look bare and is likely to be ruined! Also, how do I arrange the appetizers? Is it necessary to put a centerpiece? Let's see together how to set the table for the buffet! All these doubts are more than legitimate, let's address them one by one: if you are used to setting the table the idea of leaving it without a tablecloth will make it look a bit sad, also remember that by placing the plates and trays directly on the table top you risk ruining and staining it. In fact, a risk not to be underestimated during an aperitif is that caused by glasses resting on wooden furniture, which often leave circles of water that are almost impossible to remove. For all these good reasons I recommend covering the table that will host the aperitifs with a nice tablecloth.

Setting the table Setting the table Appetizers

Choosing the tablecloth for the aperitif

The choice of tablecloths depends on the tone you set for your aperitif; one solution that never goes out of fashion and is suitable for all occasions is long tablecloths, which completely cover the table legs and avoid the children's snack table effect. If you are in summer you can achieve a beautiful effect with a linen gauze tablecloth, the transparency will create a light effect and the fabric will glow with the golden light of the setting sun, or even a beautiful linen tablecloth in a soft, natural color such as sand or gray that suits all styles of decor. Since the aperitif will take place in a larger area than just the dining table, it will be important to take care of the entire setting to create a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere.

How to decorate the cocktail table. .

Placing a decorative element is always a good idea to add a touch of style, as long as it does not take too much space away from plates and trays. Also since your guests will not be seated around the table you don't have to worry about using a very low decoration on the contrary, in this specific case, you could place a vase on the table, tall, on foot, with branches and flowers towering over the table. Keep the height a little lower than the eye level of a standing person and thus create a nice focal point in the room that you can also place off-center on the table. Rather than for flowers, I prefer to drop the choice on candles: you can use tall candlesticks with thin candles or larger candles, possibly protected by glass windbreakers, at different points in the room or garden. Candles are particularly impressive considering that the cocktail party will take place at sunset and the warm light will spread throughout the room, helping to create a truly elegant effect. Place them at different heights, on low tables, on consoles, without overdoing it and taking care not to put them in dangerous areas that could be inadvertently bumped into.

Plates, glasses and cutlery: what tableware to use for the aperitif.

Depending on what you wish to serve you will have to decide whether to put plates on the table and, if so, which ones. You might opt for fingerfood appetizers served in small single-serving containers or for trays, cutting boards and serving plates from which everyone can serve themselves. Having good basic equipment, if you are a fan of invitations, will make things much easier for you. That is why over time I have purchased a large number of wooden cutting boards, which are always beautiful and useful as serving dishes or trays. It is also very useful to have many bowls of different sizes and materials, whether ceramic, porcelain, glass or wood, they will be very useful for serving many different kinds of appetizers.

Plates, trays and cutting boards.

In this second case, my advice is to place stacks of plates in at least two places on the table, accessible from different points. Plates for an aperitif should be quite small and practical, such as saucers used for dessert about 20 cm in diameter. If you do not have enough plates of the same size and decoration to ensure coverage of all guests, it does not matter, also use different sets of plates, perhaps dividing them into separate groups placed at different points of the buffets. Since these are plates to be used standing up as well, it would be best if they are not too heavy plates, ideal for a buffet and aperitif are, for example, our melamine plates, which are light and unbreakable.


Along with plates you need cutlery suitable for what you will serve, you should always choose well the appetizers to serve at an aperitif: avoid foods that need too much cutlery, they will create complications for you and a lot of extra work! There is a great choice of foods that can be eaten simply with the hands, further down I will give you some of my favorite ideas to serve! However, if you opt to use some cutlery I like to place it in small silver buckets or alternatively in containers that keep it collected and ready to use. Simple objects such as jars, and even small drawers that are well cleaned and protected with a linen napkin can work well for this purpose. I deliberately did not mention disposable crockery because I do not consider it a viable option. Even in the most extreme cases when I have organized aperitifs for 50 people, I have always managed to avoid them, enlisting the help of friends and relatives who have come to my aid by lending me sufficient cutlery, glasses and plates. The heterogeneous result has always been very nice, informal and pleasant! If you will be serving foods such as olives or cheese cubes, do not forget to place special tweezers, toothpicks or small cutlery for serving. If, however, you really have to opt for disposable cutlery and tableware, at least choose natural and eco-friendly materials, such as palm or bamboo. They turn out to be more elegant and less polluting.

Cocktail napkins

Cocktail napkins are smaller in size than table napkins, the approximate size is 20x20 cm, in fabric matching the tablecloth. This is according to etiquette...but if you don't have any, don't be formal! Your guests will still appreciate a cloth napkin more, even if it is a table napkin, rather than a paper one; arrange them in abundance, scattered in bunches on buffet tables or side tables next to sofas.

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