A beautifully set table can set your dinner party apart from the rest. But do you remember how to set a proper table from your youthful days when it was just a bothersome chore?
Follow our tips to become an etiquette pro and impress your dinner guests – mom, too, of course.
First things first
Before you can set your table, you have to have a menu. If you’re serving soup, a plate won’t do you much good. If your meal is particularly saucy, you’ll probably need separate plates to keep foods from running together. There are lots of considerations to make but it all must start with a menu.
A basic set of dinnerware that can be used for a wide range of meals consists of:
- A standard dinner plate
- Cloth napkin
- One dinner fork
- One knife
- One standard spoon
- A drinking glass
This will be suitable for most occasions, but on special occasions, you can simply add additional pieces which we’ll discuss a bit later.
The basic setup
Once you know your menu, you can set up your place setting.
To start, place your dinner plate in the center.
Place your fork to the left of the plate, and your knife and spoon – in that order – to the right of the plate. And remember, the blade of the knife should face the plate.
Your drinking glass should go above the knife and spoon.
The napkin can either be placed on top of the dinner plate or underneath the fork.
This simple setup does not take much time at all to put together. You likely already have most of the components. Knowing how to properly set the table for an informal meal and taking the time to do it is a small step that can make each meal feel a bit more luxurious.
Step it up a notch
If you need to step things up a little bit, a few simple additions can take your place setting to the next level. Begin with the standard place setting from the last section.
Add a coffee mug above the spoon and knife. Coffee or hot tea is a very classy way to end the meal. The handle for the mug should be to the right. If you have matching saucers, place one underneath the mug.
Another way to step up your table is to add a wine glass or two to each place setting. When your mom was teaching you how to set a table, she probably didn’t mention this. If you’ll be serving red wine or white wine, add one wine glass. If you’ll be serving both, add two.
Wine and water glasses should always be placed together. Place these glasses to the left of the mug and saucer.
If you’re not a wine drinker, adding in a pint glass for beer is a fun twist.
To really impress your guests, serve a soup or salad with your meal. Soup bowls can be placed on top of the dinner plate and the soup spoon goes on the right of the standard spoon. For salad, place the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork and place the salad plate on the left of the forks.
Go all out
If you want to go all the way formal,
implement place cards for each guest.
Another step to make your dinners seem like a high-end restaurant experience is to pass bread and butter while your guests wait to be served. Starting with a full water glass before they arrive is also a great practice to follow.
Whether you’re learning how to set a table for everyday meals or for an all-out experience, paying attention to the details can truly make all the difference.