Can't remember which side the napkin goes on? Use this guide to set the table for any occasion, whether you're sharing a casual family meal or throwing a formal dinner party.

June 09, 2015

Throwing a dinner party or even a casual lunch shouldn't intimidate you. Whether you keep it simple or go full-on fancy, this guide will help you set your table and ensure everything is in place for an unforgettable night. Print our handy place setting guide and hang it inside a kitchen cabinet so it’s always on hand when needed. Now all you need are a few good recipes, and you're ready to entertain!

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Casual Table Setting

Not every get-together requires a formal place setting. Opt for something more casual when hosting impromptu parties and lunches with friends or family.

For casual table settings, the knife and spoon go to the right of the dinner plate; the fork and napkin are placed to the left. The glass goes above the knife. If needed, a soup spoon and a salad fork can be added (placed on respective sides in order of use); a cup and saucer may be placed to the right. 

Although your place settings are informal, you can add special touches to your tablescape by adding an unfussy centerpiece, cloth chargers, or fun place cards. 

Informal Dinners or Luncheons

For informal dinners, add an extra fork for salad, as well as serveware for dessert. You may also choose to add a wine glass to each setting.

Arrange the knife and soup spoon to the right of the dinner plate; place dinner fork and salad fork to the left of the plate in order of use. If serving dessert, place a dessert spoon and dessert fork above the plate, pointing left and right respectively. Arrange glasses, bread plate, and bread knife as directed for formal sit-down meals, below.

Credit: Adam Albright

Formal Table Setting

For formal occasions, like holidays, go all out with your place settings. You'll need multiple spoons, forks, and possibly knives, depending on what you're serving. You can also opt to include bread or salad dishware and utensils, as well as items for serving dessert. You'll also need a cloth napkin for each place, napkin rings (if desired), and place cards. 

Place a knife (blade edge in) next to the plate. Then place spoons to the right of the knife in order of use from outside in. Place forks to the left of the plate in order of use from the outside in. Arrange glasses above the knife. Left to right, the water goblet is first, followed by wine glasses, placed large to small.

If you're using a bread plate, place it above the forks. A butter knife may be placed across the bread plate. The salad plate is placed to the left of the forks, and the cup, saucer, and coffee spoon to the right of the setting. For formal dinners, these items are usually brought to the table when served.

Comments (1)

October 25, 2018
What is the pattern of the green salad plates in the formal setting?