Setting the table for an eventful dinner can be stressful. Just where does the salad fork go? Do you need a dessert spoon for everyday dinner? Are wine glasses served before or after dinner? Without proper table setting techniques, you risk the embarrassment of proper host etiquette at your next dinner party!
In this article, we'll show you how to set a table properly for a basic, casual, and formal dinner setting. Don't fret the different utensils and plates! Here's how you can impress your guests, and make every dinner special:
Proper Way to Set Table: Basic, Casual, and Formal Table Settings
Basic Table Setting
Your basic table setting is your everyday table setting. It is casual, minimalist, and easy to set up everyday. You won't need a lot of utensils and plates either - just your good, old-fashioned, everyday table setting!
- Fix your placemats on the desired positions, allotting ample space between diners.
- Place the dinner plate in the middle of the placemat.
- Place the fork on the left side of the plate, the knife on the right of the plate with the blade side pointing towards the plate, and the spoon beside the knife. OR Place the utensils on the right: fork on the right of the plate, the knife beside the fork with the blades pointed towards the plate, and the spoon beside the knife.
- Level the bottoms of the plate and utensils until they are even.
- Place the water glass on the upper right side of the plate.
- If using napkins, place the napkin beneath the fork, or beneath the utensils.
- If using soup bowls, place the soup bowl on top of the dinner plate.
Casual Table Setting
A casual setting is a little more special than your basic, everyday table setting, but it is not as stiff or intricate as a formal table setting. A casual table setting is suitable for those get togethers, brunches, and luncheons with your close friends and family. It is proper and polite without being too intimidating.
- Lay down the placemat on the table, allotting ample space between guests. Seat guests according to amicability, with the host or hostess of the party at the head of the table.
- Place the dinner plate in the middle of each placemat. If serving a salad dish, place the salad plate on top of the dinner plate. If serving soup, place the soup bowl on top of the salad plate.
- Place a napkin flat on the left side of the plate. Place the dinner fork on top of the napkin. If using a separate salad fork, place the salad fork on the left of the dinner fork.
- Place the knife on the right side of the dinner plate with the blade facing towards the plate. Place the soup spoon on the right of the knife.
- Place the water glass on the upper right hand side of the placement. If serving wine or another beverage, place the wine glass on the upper diagonal area of the water glass.
Formal Table Setting
A formal table setting is much more intricate than your basic or casual table. The setting of your formal dinner table will depend on the number and type of dishes being served that evening. Formal table settings are reserved for a fancy dinner party, and any good host or hostess knows how to impress their guests with their table!
- Formal dinners don't typically use placemats. Instead, dinnerware is placed on a smooth, ironed piece of tablecloth spread out across the table.
- A charger, which is a decorative plate used as a base for the rest of the dinnerware, is not meant to be eaten on, and often features delicate designs. Place the charger on each designated seat.
- If serving soup, place the soup bowl directly on the charger. If serving salad, place the salad plate on top of the charger. If serving both soup and salad, place the dinnerware that corresponds to the dish served first. You'll be changing dinner plates during the course of the meal, so it is unnecessary to stack all those delicate plates at the start of the dinner.
- Place the bread plate on the upper left hand of the charger, between the 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock positions. The butter knife should be laid horizontally on top of the bread plate.
- Place the napkin on the left hand side of the charger. The dinner fork goes on the left of the charger on top of the napkin, and the salad fork goes on the left of the dinner fork.
- The dinner knife should be placed on the right hand side of the charger with the blade facing towards the charger. The soup spoon goes on the right of the knife. Make sure the bottoms of all utensils align with the bottom of the charger.
- Dessert spoons are typically placed north of the charger, laid horizontally. This may be replaced with a dessert fork depending on the type of dish being served that evening.
- The water glass stays directly above the knife, with the white and red wine glasses are kept 3/4 of an inch diagonally below and above the water glass, respectively.
- Finally, place a name card north of the dessert utensils, and a salt and pepper shaker on each side of the name card for convenience. Seat guests according to rank, with the host or hostess of the event seated at the head of the table.
Prepare Your Party
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