It's Tuesday night. In 4 days, 7 friends are coming for dinner. Checklists everywhere.
I set the table first. From a logistical perspective, it's time consuming and helps you consider everything: "Shoot, I only have 6 chairs and need 2 more"; "I don't have enough silverware to change utensils with every course"; "There is no room on the table to do this family style, so I need to set up my kitchen counter to do this buffet style." These are things that need to be addressed way before showtime.
I also like setting the table in advance because it's a daily reminder of the imminent PARTY. Seeing a festive tablecloth when I wake up in the morning or when I'm chopping veggies reminds me of the point of this whole dance: People are going to be sitting next to each other, eating and learning and laughing.
Of course, day-of flowers will be added and place cards will be set, but I love setting the table early because it's one thing DONE! It's the first thing guests will see as they come in hungry and excited, and entertaining is about confidence. If you have the table under control, you can be confident in a good first impression.