Setting the table greatly depends on the occasion and the nature of your guests.  We provide a great resource to teach yourself and children about setting the table for various meals.

Below, you see an image of a standard formal setting for a dinner party. We chose this because it gives the maximum experience for setting the table. Most other settings would be less than this. Additionally, your menu should also impact the setting of your table. For example, if you are serving cream soup, then you should use a cream soup spoon, not an ordinary soup spoon. Not serving soup? Then there’s no need to set the spoon. Remember that you should never put out utensils that will not be used. This only leads to confusion and makes your guests feel uncomfortable. When assigning specific seating, make sure that you also match the settings to the guest. When one of your guests doesn’t drink wine, then don’t set wine glasses for that guest. Make sure that you put a water pitcher near that person to make it easier to refill the water glass. If your menu doesn’t have anything that needs a teaspoon, don’t set them. If you are serving coffee and dessert, set the teaspoons then. Make sure that if you are serving a dessert that needs a teaspoon, like ice cream, have a separate teaspoon for the dessert and one for the coffee.

You may also place napkins on the plate or in other locations at the setting. Place cards may be put on the center of the plate or on the table above the plate (about 2″ from the 12 o’clock position of the plate). Place cards set in stands should never be set on the plate, but always on the table.

A Dinner Setting

1. Napkin
2. Salad fork
3. Dinner fork
4. Dessert fork
5. Bread-and-butter plate, with spreader
6. Dinner plate
7. Dinner knife
8. Teaspoon
9. Teaspoon
10. Soup spoon
11. Cocktail fork
12. Water glass
13. Red-wine glass
14. White-wine glass
15. Coffee cup and saucer*

* For an informal meal, include the coffee cup and saucer with the table setting. Otherwise, bring them to the table with the dessert.

The Breakfast Table

The Breafast table is a much more comforting setting, where family members should sit, eat and talk with each other before they start their busy days. Despite the general aire of informality, one should always take a structured view of tablesettings, even for the most informal meals.

The Breakfast Table

A. Napkin
B. Luncheon Plate
C. Cereal Bowl
D. Bread and Butter Plate
E. Cup and Saucer with teaspoonF. Water glass
G. Juice glass
H. Fork
I. Knife
J. Teaspoon

The Luncheon Table

The Luncheon Setting

A. Napkin
B. Luncheon Plate
C. Soup (or other first course plate) on a liner plate
D. Bread and butter plate with butter knife
E. Water GlassF. Wine glass
G. Luncheon Fork
H. Knife
I. Teaspoon
J. Soup spoon

The Buffet Table

The Buffet Table

A good rule of thumb for setting the banquet table is to consider how the guests can best serve themselves and follow the service pattern logically. Generally, napkins and plates should be set first, then food dishes and finally glasses and flatware. With this pattern, guests will not have to juggle a drink and utensils while they are filling their plates.

The Family Dinner

The Family Dinner

A. Napkin
B. Luncheon Plate
C. Salad Plate
D. Bread and butter plate with butter knifeE. Water glass
F. Fork
G. Knife
H. Teaspoon

Setting Your Table
All flatware is placed in the order of use. What is to be used first is placed farthest from the plate. Flatware is placed in an even line, one inch from the edge of the table.

Knives are placed at the right with cutting edge facing the plate, except the butter spreader, which is placed diagonally on the bread plate, with the blade edge toward the dinner fork.

Spoons are placed to the right of theplate and to the right of the knives.

All forks are placed at the left of the plate in order of use. The only exception is the oyster fork, which goes to the right of the soup spoon.

If a salad is being served with the main course, or if the salad fork is to be used as a dessert fork, it is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. The dessert fork and spoon can also be placed European style, above the plate. The spoon, its handle to the right, goes above the fork. The fork handle points to the left.

Selecting the Centerpiece
Fresh flowers, fruit, gourds, nuts pinecones and evergreens are just some of the selections from which to choose in arranging a centerpiece. Keep your arrangement for dinner low in height so guests may see across the table. Be spectacular with a large display for a buffet table. Candles may accompany a centerpiece or be incorporated in it for evening dining. The height of the flames should either be well above or well below the guests’ eyes. Tall candles look best in short holders and vice versa for short candles. Chunky candles for informal dining may stand alone or in clusters of varying heights. Whether using candles or not, provide enough light for the food to be seen, colors enjoyed, and guests’ comfort.

Arranging Your Crystal
Water goblets and wine glasses are placed to the right of the place setting. The water glass should line up with the tip of the knife.

When serving both white and red wines, place the white wine glass outside, the red wine glass in the middle, and the water goblet at the tip of the knife.

Fill water glasses so they are ready when guests take their seats. Serve wine as needed

And What About Napkins?
Although paper napkins are convenient, cloth napkins are more elegant, can be arranged in clever folds and cling better to the lap. Whether folded or secured with a napkin ring, the napkin should be placed alongside the forks or on the plate. Occasionally, the napkin may rest above the plate, parallel to the table edge. When finished with the meal the napkin is casually laid unfolded beside the plate.

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