How To Set the Table Properly

Growing up, my mom made us learn how to properly set the table. It wasn’t fun setting the table every night (I can assure you!) but now that I’m older, I can appreciate what she was trying to teach us.

We’ve all had experiences with formal table settings. Whether it was setting the table, or dining at the table not knowing which fork to use. So, today I thought I’d help you out with a little diagram on how to properly set the table.

How to Properly Set a Table:

1. Dinner Plate

2. Salad Plate

3. Soup Bowl

4. Dinner Fork

5. Teaspoon

6. Soup Spoon

7. Dinner Fork

8. Salad Fork

9. Napkin

10. Water Glass

11. Red Wine Glass

12. White Wine Glass

13. Sparkling Drink Glass

14. Teacup and Saucer

15. Bread Plate with Butter Spreader

16. Dessert Fork

17. Dessert Spoon

18. Place Card

Here’s a few helpful hints to help you remember how to set the table (or how to dine at a set table):

  • The dinner knife should always be placed cutting-edge facing in, towards the dinner plate.
  • You should always be able to draw a line with your eye from the dinner knife to the water glass.
  • You can usually tell how many courses there will be by looking at the silverware. The more silverware, the more courses.
  • Knives and spoons go on the right. Forks on the left. A good way to remember this is the word “RIGHT” has 5 letters, as do “KNIFE” and “SPOON.” “FORK” only has 4 letters, like “LEFT.”
    To really be picky, utensils should be placed approximately 1/2 inch away from the dinner plate and lined up evenly.
  • Start eating by using the silverware on the outside. Work your way in. One of the last forks (besides the dessert fork) you will pick up will be for the main course.
  • The red wine glass will be the largest glass.
  • The white wine glass will be slightly smaller than the red wine glass.
  • The sparkling drink glass is the most slender glass at the table. It is for champagne or other sparkling drinks.
  • Some people choose to use place cards, some don’t. If you are not using place cards, you can place a menu card up for your guests to see the list of courses.
  • There are many places for the napkin. If you choose not to place it decoratively on your plate or in the water glass, it gets placed to the left of the forks.
  • The napkin is the first thing you should touch. It should be gently placed in your lap, if the waiter doesn’t do it for you.
  • If you excuse yourself from the table, the napkin should be left in your chair. When everyone has finished every course, you may fold the napkin and place on the table to your right.

For a more informal setting, the dinner plate stays the same, with the dinner knife and spoon on the right. The fork is on the left, with the water glass above the dinner knife.

So what do you think? How often do you set the table properly for family dinner? Do you have any other tips to add? We’d love to hear them!

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    rachel frampton
    January 12, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    My sister and I will host a garden party this month, which is why we’re currently looking for patterned dinnerware. Well, thank you for these tips; we’ll make sure to place the dinner knife on the cutting edge. We’ll also keep in mind to use large glasses for the red wine.

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