I say those words over 200 times a year – yes I counted! However my children still cannot remember where the forks go and they are normally strewn about the table. Most days I am happy if the forks are not on the floor. Other than forks on the left and spoons on the right, there are very few rules to remember. In the past there were placement rules for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus where the napkin should be placed depending upon the meal. Most of those ideas have become lost in favor of keeping a theme and making the table look appetizing.
In an attempt to keep my own table interesting, I like to add color especially if I am using white or plain china. I rarely pull out my linen napkins so I collect pretty printed paper napkins in colors that coordinate with my home and the theme. This is an inexpensive way to dress up a plain table. I sometimes arrange 4 or 5 of them in the center of the table to act as a runner. I have also been known to use interesting craft scrapbook paper or a silk scarf as a runner or charger under a plate.
Next, I love fresh flowers but usually my flowers are wilted and dying so I sometimes place the dessert elevated on a cake stand as a centerpiece. Cakes, brownies and even cookies piled high make a lovely centerpiece and excite guests.
Avoid centerpieces that are too tall. We have all been to weddings where you cannot speak nor see guests across from you because the flower arrangement is ginormous. I suggest sitting down in one of the chairs while planning your table decorations to check the height of your centerpieces. Pieces may look good while standing but they may overpower the table while sitting down.
And here is a note about buffets and pot luck dinners. Consider placing utensils at the end of the line so guests have fewer items to juggle while filling their plates with all of the wonderful food you have prepared.