When it comes to setting a table to look fancy for your dinner party there are a few things you can do to make sure you cover all of your basis.
For place settings you can start with a placemat.
Heres a twig placemat from Crate and Barrel
Then you can use charger plates, they are an easy way to instantly dress up the table for a dinner party or even a casual dinner! They are typically meant to act as a base plate holder for the dinner plate. The picture below is a Silver rimmed charger set of 4 at World Market for $11.96.
Place settings should be set & layered in the same fashion that the meal is going to be served. Soup bowls or salad plates on top of dinner plates, and dinner plates on top of charger plates. Always include a separate dish if there is going to be any sauces served with the meal. For dinner serveware I like the simplicity of all white dinnerware. This also from world market is the Coupe Dinnerware sold in seperate peices from $11.96-$15.96
The silverware part is always the tricky part people dont quite get. I like to make is simple. The salad and dinner forks should be placed to the left of the plate and knives and spoons to the right. The general rule is to "work from the outside in", so the salad fork should go to the left of the dinner fork, and the spoon to the right of the knife. Dont forget to make sure you always keep the blade of the knife pointing inward to the plate. If you're using more than one spoon, like a soup spoon and a teaspoon, the teaspoon should be placed horizontally at the top of the dinner plate.
For your drinkware...at a formal dinner table, water glasses should be placed above the tip of the knife, with red and white wine glasses clustered a little further back. For a more formal occasion that is somewhat dressy but not super-duper formal, you can use basic tumblers in place of water glasses.
For a little more added decoration for your table dress it up with some snazzy linens. Like these from World Market. Also dont forget to add a centerpeice to the table.