One of my favorite tasks when having guests over for the holidays (or anytime) is setting the table. I enjoy mixing and matching all the different elements to create a beautiful and inviting tablescape. It somehow makes the meal seem more special for everyone. My mom taught me how important and simple it was to have a proper table setting when entertaining and I’ve been having fun with it ever since. Today I’m going to show you how easy it is, so you can have fun with it, too.
Proper Table Setting Guide
No matter what the occasion, setting the table can be fun and it’s really quite easy when you understand the guidelines for how to properly set a table. In this guide to a proper table setting, I’ve created a diagram for you that shows the correct placement of items for four types of settings and included a few helpful tips.
Proper Table Setting Tips
- Allow at least 2 feet of space for each guest, so they have plenty of elbow-room.
- Set your plates first, then balance everything else off of them.
- The rule-of-thumb for utensils is that you place them in the order in which they are used, working from the outside in.
- Don’t put out any utensils you won’t be using.
- Place forks to the left of the plate, spoons and knives to the right. The only exception to this is the cocktail fork, which goes on the outside on the right.
- The dessert spoon can be placed to the right of the plate or above it. When placing dessert utensils above the plate, place the fork handle to the left and the spoon or knife handle to the right. Or you can bring out the dessert utensils when you serve dessert.
- All knives should be placed with the cutting edge toward the plate.
- The bottom edge of all the utensils to the right and left of the plate should line up.
- Napkins should be cloth and placed on the left side of the plate with the fold closest to the plate. For informal dinners, the napkin can be placed on the plate.
- Butter and salad plates go on the left of the plate, while coffee cups and glasses go on the right side.
- When serving bread, include a butter plate with a butter knife or butter spreader.
- Coffee cups and saucers are often not placed on the table until the dessert course.
As with anything in design, the “rules” are made to be broken. Once you’re comfortable with the basic guidelines, you can follow them or break them as your creativity deems necessary. Remember, just have fun with it!
Be ready for your next gathering by downloading the free Proper Table Setting guide.