how to set a table

How to set a table

In your life, most of the meals you serve and eat will probably be in an informal setting.  For special occasions, you might get to eat at a fancy restaurant or a nice event for a formal meal.  Here you will learn of both of them.

This is a basic everyday table setting. One that you might already set each night for dinner in your own home. This is the easiest of the two, involving the least amount of tableware as there are less courses involved.

The  longer tined forks are the dinner forks and the shorter ones are for salad.

Soup spoons are fatter and larger. 

The sharp side of the knife is facing inward towards your plate.

Make sure everything is balanced and even when setting the table.

Most of us won’t see a formal table setting very much in our life.  It requires a lot of dishwashing!!!   A good rule to remember when eating at a formal place setting is start from the outside and work your way in. That way you will be able to know which utensils to use.

formal table setting

On your bread and butter plate is placed a butter knife on an angle pointing towards the upper left.

The tea cup and saucer is generally not placed on the table until dessert time.

If soup is served, the waiter will bring that out separately to stack on top of your plate position.

Napkin etiquette

  •  Depending upon where you dine, a napkin may be folded neatly on the center of your plate or off to the left.
  • When seated, immediately take the napkin and place it in your lap. There is no need to open the napkin fully.  Fold it in half, and place it on your lap. 
  •  Carefully blot your mouth when eating, to remove crumbs and food.  Do not wipe.
  • If you need to leave the table to use the restroom, place the napkin loosely to the left side of your plate.
  • When you are finished eating, place your napkin loosely to the left of your plate.
  • It is acceptable to place your fork and knife lengthwise at the top of your plate, signaling that you are finished with your meal
  • NEVER blow your nose, use it as a bib , or throw it on the plate when you are finished..
  •  If you bite into something difficult to chew (like a piece of meat or gristle), you don’t spit it into your cloth napkin. When no one is looking, you discreetly take it out with your two fingers and put it on the edge of your plate. You do this in case your napkin drops accidentally and the server picks it up.  You don’t want food to roll out of it.