How To Set a Table
Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or want to make your everyday dining a little more elegant, knowing How To Set a Table properly is a necessary skill.
It can be a little intimidating to try to figure out where everything goes on your own though, so I’m happy to help. There are a few different types of place settings that can be used, and I’m going to discuss two of them.
The first is a casual or everyday table setting – one you can use for dinner every night or for Sunday dinner with the family. After that, I’ll explain how to do a more formal setting – you can use this for special occasions such as birthdays or holiday dinners.
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How to Set a Casual Table
The best thing about knowing how to easily set a casual table is that it’s a solid foundation for more formal settings. You don’t need to use special or fancy dishes or silverware for a casual table setting. Take away some of these items and you have a basic table setting.
What you need:
- Placemats (technically optional but they look nice)
- Dinner plate for each person
- Bread plate for each person, optional
- Cutlery (forks, knife, spoons) for each person
- Napkins (with or without napkin rings)
- Water glass for each person.
- Wine glass (if desired) for each person
What to do:
- Place the tablecloth on the table so that it drapes evenly – both sides should be the same length.
- Put a placemat in front of each chair you expect to have people sitting in.
- The dinner plate is placed in the center of the placemat and the bread plate to the upper left of the dinner plate.
- Next, the knife to the right of the dinner plate and the spoons to the right of the knife (on the outside).
- Place the fork to the left of the dinner plate. Smallest spoons and forks are on the outside if used.
- Set a water glass above the knife and spoon on the right side of the place setting.
- If you have napkin rings, put the napkin through the ring and place the napkin on top of the dinner plate. Don’t have napkin rings? Then you can fold the napkin into a triangle and place it under the fork with the point of the triangle facing out.
- Placing the napkin there also helps if you are having a soup course and want your soup bowl on top of the plates.
- If you are using wine glasses, they should go to the right of the water glass in the top right corner.
How to Set a Formal Table
A formal table setting looks very similar to a casual table but there are more utensils, dishes, and glasses involved. Some families set formal tables for holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving while others only use them for events such as weddings. Typically, formal dinners have at least 3 courses so we will set for that.
What you need:
- Chargers for each place, optional but a lovely touch.
- Dinner plates, bread plates, and salad plates for each person
- Cutlery (butter knife, dinner knife, salad knife, salad fork, dinner fork, soup spoon, dessert spoon or dessert fork) and teaspoon for each person.
- Napkins with napkin rings
- Water glass for each person
- Red wine glass and white wine glass for each person
- Cup and saucer for each person
- Place card
What to do:
- Place the tablecloth on the table so that it hangs evenly.
- Add a charger at each seating.
- Place the dinner plate on top of the charger and the salad plate on top of the dinner plate. (You can choose to just place the salad plate and have the dinner plates placed as the salad plates are cleared away but it’s easier to have everything done at the beginning.)
- The dinner fork goes left of the plate or charger. Then place the salad fork to the left (outside) of the dinner fork.
- Place the dinner knife on the right-hand side of the charger with the blade facing in. Set the salad knife next to the dinner knife followed by the soup spoon to the right (outside) of the knife and a teaspoon if using.
- The dessert spoon or fork is added horizontally above the charger.
- Add the bread plate, with the butter knife resting on it, above and to the left of the charger.
- Place the water glass directly above the dinner knife – above and to the right of the charger. The white wine glass is added to the right and slightly downwards from the water glass. Place the red wine glass behind and slightly right of the white wine glass.
- Lastly, put the napkin in the napkin ring and place a napkin ring in the center of plates on a charger or by itself. Add the place card onto the napkin.
That’s all there is to setting tables for casual and formal dinners. It’s really not too hard once you know the steps. How often do you set your table for dinner? Let me know in the comments!
Comments & Reviews
Tara Pittman says
This is good info to know. I need to teach my boys this before the holidays
Brianne Tursi Manz says
This is good info to pass on to my kids as they get older. A well set table shows that you care for your guests.
This information is so helpful! I had no idea how to do it myself! I am always confused when I go to fancy restaurants.
Fabulous! I found all the answers in this post! Thanks for sharing it!
Annemarie LeBlanc says
We were taught how to do this in high school but I forgot. Haha. Thank you for refreshing my memory. This would really come in handy especially around this time of year.
This is really helpful!! I will definitely try this for Thanksgiving and other holidays! Thank you!
Lisa Joy Thompson says
This is so important to know! I think so many people don’t know how to set a table because people don’t sit down to eat as a family anymore! Thanks for this helpful guide!