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How to Set a Table

Setting a table for an event or dinner party can be a daunting task. Knowing the formality of the occasion and the differences between the three basic table settings can help ease your worry. With this simple guide you will always know what place setting is best and just how to execute it.

Basic Table SettingImage source: http://blog.postmark.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/basic-setting.jpg

This is perfect for any informal occasion. If you are just having family over for sunday dinner or want to have a nice sit down breakfast with the kids this should be your go to.

Place your plate center to the chair. From there, your fork and napkin go to the left of the plate, while knife and spoon go to the right. The knife should be on the inside of the spoon, closest to the plate and the blade should face the plate.

Much like using your left hand to form an ‘L’ to distinguish left from right, you can easily discern where your bread plate and drink should go by forming a ‘b’ with your left hand and a ‘d’ with the right. Your bread plate and butter knife go to the left above your fork and the drink will go to the left above your knife.

Informal Table Setting

informal place settingImage source: http://blog.postmark.com/evolving-etiquette/how-to-set-a-table-informal/

An informal setting is appropriate for a nice, three course dinner. Once again your dinner plate is center. To the left will be two forks, the larger, dinner fork, is placed closest to the plate with the smaller, salad fork on the outside. The Napkin is either set under the plate or to the left of the forks. Like the basic setting, your knife will go to the right of the plate, blade facing in, followed by the dessert spoon and then the soup spoon (left to right). All drinks go to the right above the knife. You may include additional plates for salad or bread. The bread plate follows the same rules as in the basic setting and goes above the forks, while the salad plate would be placed to the far left of the forks.

Formal Table Setting

formal place settingImage source: http://blog.postmark.com/evolving-etiquette/how-to-set-a-table-formal/

A formal setting would be used when the meal includes more than three courses or for a large holiday meal. Each course is brought in on its own plate and positioned in front of the guests. Dessert will arrive on it’s own plate with it’s own utensils included on the plate. Because you are bringing each plate individually, all that is needed in the setting is a large plate called a charger, upon which each course will be placed.
The napkin sits on the charger. Your bread plate goes, as usual, to the left above the forks and should have it’s own knife set on top of it. The forks are arranged to the left of the charger, they are arranged based on the order they will be used, working from the outside in. (Note, there should never be more than 3 of the same type of utensil on the table, bring any additional utensils out with the course). The dinner knife is placed to the right of the charger, with a fish knife (if appropriate) to it’s right. The spoon also sits in it’s usual location to the right of the knives. Drinks go above the knives and spoons and are organized in the order they will be used, not to exceed 5.

There is a rundown of the 3 main types of table settings. Thankfully the formal setting won’t be something you have to remember often. If you are looking for some added flare for your table settings, check out our entertaining board on Pinterest.

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