How To Set a Formal Dinner Table

When entertaining at home we have a long list of things we have to do before guests arrive. We have to prepare food and drinks, make sure ambiance is nice and pleasant and we have to set the table.

We can set the table in formal or informal way.


When setting a formal dinner table there are a few rules we have to follow. It is nothing complicated if you know that rules are based on logic:


  • You begin eating a meal by using the flatware at the outside left and right, and then working your way in towards the plate as the meal proceeds.
  • Forks are placed to the left of the plate, knives and spoons to the right.
  • Stemware is set above and to the right of the dinner plate. The water glass stands above the dinner knife, white wine to its right, and red wine top center.
  • Bread plate sits above the forks, with a butter knife on top of the plate.
  • Flatware should align with the bottom rim of the charger.
  • Charger is a large plate, which will be removed after everyone spreads his napkin on his lap.
  • It is not advised to set a napkin underneath the forks because it can cause a lot of noise when guests reach for it. Also, it might disrupt the place setting.
  • Once a utensil has touched food, it is never to touch the tablecloth again.
  • When guests finish the course, they should place their silverware diagonally across the plate with handles between 4 and 5 o’clock, with knife blade facing in.



How To Set a Table For Soup

  • Soup is served in a heated soup dish, on top of  a dinner plate.
  •  It is  eaten with the soup spoon, which is placed at the outer right.
  • When every guest has finished and laid his spoon, the plate, bowl, and spoon will be removed. The bread plate and butter knife remain.
  • When soup is served with a plate, the resting place for the spoon is in the bowl. The finished position is across the top of the plate, behind the bowl, between 11 and 2 o’clock.
  • When there is no plate, the resting and finished positions are the same, but in the bowl.



How To Set a Table For Fish

  • Fish course is served in a midsize plate.
  • Use the short, broad fork at outer left and the fish knife at outer right.



How To Set a Table for Main Course

  • The large dinner plate may be brought in either bearing a portion of food or empty.
  • The plate should be preheated unless the main course is served cold.
  • It is eaten with the dinner fork and knife.



How to set a Table for Salad

  • Salad is eaten with the remaining fork.
  • After this course, the bread plate and  butter knife will be cleared, along with the salad plate and fork, leaving the table set for dessert.



How To Set a Table for Dessert

  • A small dessert plate arrives. Use the cake fork and the dessert spoon, which have been laid across the top of the setting.
  • The water glass is the only stemware still on the table.