Perhaps I am a snob and a perfectionist, but there is a right way and a wrong way to set a table. There are diagrams and descriptions all over the place so it's not a hard thing to learn. And once you learn it, there's really not any good excuse for not doing it right. This becomes especially important when it comes to entertaining. I have a pretty broad definitions of "entertaining" and that is any time you have someone who is not a resident of your home come in, particularly for a meal. I may relax this understanding later, but this is where it stands right now.
I know that because I'm a little OCD, I probably make a bigger deal out of some things, but it really does make a difference in the whole environment of a meal, whether it's for 2 or 20.
When we were preparing to host one of Jeff's family Christmas events last year, I went out and bought 24 buffet plates (they were at the Linens N Things going out of business sale so I didn't spend a ton!) and several tablecloths. I really wanted covers for the folding chairs, but I may have to get those this year. The night before the party I set to work setting the tables. We were expecting about 16 people, so there were 2 folding tables, the kitchen, and the dining room to set. I literally set every place with silverware, a napkin, and a glass. Every table had a centerpiece. I put a lot of work into making it look nice. I didn't have enough plates or glasses for everyone's to be identical, but I did make sure that every table had all the same pattern. I put a lot of time and energy into making everything look nice. And through it all Jeff looked at me like I had two heads! He was used to a much more relaxed atmosphere involving paper plates and whatever forks you could find. But it all looked really nice and it really set the tone for a much nicer party.
Jeff's mom and I both have a thing with dishes. We love them. And although she has always only had service for eight in any of her patterns, I was taught to do service for twelve. Given the size of their family I am actually quite shocked by this because they have twelve just from with Jeff's grandparents, the five kids, and their spouses without listing any of the grandkids, their spouses, or the great-grandkids. She got new dishes for her birthday in service for eight because that's what she asked for. But just before father's day, she went out and got four more because she really liked them. And it made for a very nice dinner because there were ten of us there for dinner and we could all use the same "real" plates. They were square Corelle, not fancy china but pretty. But once you added a nice tablecloth and cloth napkins with napkin rings, suddenly these "everyday" dishes looked absolutely beautiful and it was a very elegant table setting.
Little touches make a big difference. It doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of money, but invest in a few nice things and spend a little bit of time and you can be amazed at the difference it makes!