For formal and moderately formal occasions, use matching collections of china, glassware and silverware for place settings to give the table a uniform look. Casual and informal events allow for more flexibility.
A dining place setting that incorporates a mix-and-match style combining different pieces of tableware is good for a more unique, event-specific dining place setting. Mix-and-match style place settings should still incorporate a common element tying all the components together. For example, place settings with dishware from different periods and styles should share similar colors, proportions or complementary lines.
One stylistic approach for designing a semi-casual dinner place setting is to start with a conceptual theme and then select elements supporting the theme. For example, rustic or season-inspired themes can creatively utilize natural elements. Fruits or leaves can form centerpieces or silverware attachments. Some examples include personalized place card flags stuck in green limes for a summer theme, or seasonal nuts scattered around the table runner for a rustic theme.
Another stylistic approach is to build a neutral, uniform table setting around a bolder element such as brightly colored napkins or a striking centerpiece. Those desiring to keep the color scheme more uniform while still adding a creative focal point can incorporate unusual substitutes for traditional table setting pieces for a bolder edge. For example, use a printed dish towel as a place mat for casual themes such as a French bistro theme, or use small gifts such as packets of seeds as both placeholders and favors.