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What is the Correct Way to Set a Dinner Table

By Elsie Goycoolea. Updated: May 31, 2018
What is the Correct Way to Set a Dinner Table

Having your friends and family over for a delectable dinner at home is an excellent way to showcase your hosting skills and your expertise in the kitchen. One of the elements needed to ensure a perfect night is by knowing how to set the dinner table. The way that the plates, glasses and cutlery are arranged around the table is based on very simple and straightforward principles that can completely change your guests’ dining experience.

In this OneHowTo article we share what is the correct way to set a dinner table from basic to formal settings.

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Basic Table Setting

If you are just inviting a close friend for dinner perhaps you don’t want to take out your fancy flatware. In that case you can just follow some simple basic table settings for a relaxing dining experience.

The first point to remember is that you have to place the fork on the left hand side, the plate in the middle and the knife (with the blade facing the plate) on the right hand side. If you are serving a soup as an appetizer, place the spoon beside the knife on the outside.

With regards to the napkin you can place it on the left hand side beside the fork or on the plate. For a nice touch you can also fold the napkin in an original shape for a warm touch. The glass is always placed on the right hand side above the knife.

Use individual mats instead of a nice tablecloth, this will look more modern.

What is the Correct Way to Set a Dinner Table - Basic Table Setting

Formal Table Setting

You might be hosting a dinner to impress a future client or you may be celebrating a special occasion. If I am in the right, you might want to add a little sophistication to the dinner table. The basic table settings outlined above will still apply in this scenario; however, we will be adding more elements and more detail.

First, if you are serving several courses you need to place additional flatware. The first course will be eaten with the cutlery placed on the further end. This means that with every course you are removing a pair of cutlery from the table. Equally, the biggest cutlery should be the one closest to the plate meaning that appetizer cutlery should be smaller. Remember that there are different knifes for meat and fish.

If you are serving an appetizer, you may also want to place a smaller plate on top of the service plate. The service plate is placed just as decoration and is removed to serve the main course. You may also bring the appetizer plated from the kitchen.

If you decide to serve bread and butter, place the plate and butter knife on the left hand side above the napkin.

Glasses are always placed on the right hand side. The water glass will be the biggest glass placed closest to the center of the arrangement and any other glasses will be added on the side with the lowest glass furthest from the plate.

What is the Correct Way to Set a Dinner Table - Formal Table Setting

Other Table Setting Points

There are some additional points that you may want to jot down so that your next dinner soirée excels in style and technique.

Don’t place more than three of each at the same time on the table. It is better to enjoy a few meals and then replace the used cutlery and flatware. Moreover, dessert cutlery should only be set upon serving. These are placed horizontally above the plate.

Leave about a thumb between your flatware and the rim of the table; as well as the same distance between the edge of the knife and the glass. Cutlery should be aligned at the base and not at the points.

With these tips you will definitely surprise your guests and now you know how easy it is to set the dinner table.

What is the Correct Way to Set a Dinner Table - Other Table Setting Points

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