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How to Set a Dining Table

by Staff Writer

An elegantly set dining table welcomes guests

Things You Need:

  • Tablecloth
  • Dinner plate
  • Salad plate
  • Soup bowl
  • Bread plate
  • Salad fork
  • Butter and bread knife
  • Dinner fork
  • Dinner knife
  • Soup spoon
  • Dessert spoon
  • Dessert fork
  • Water glass
  • Wine glass
  • Cloth napkin
  • Name card
  • Centerpiece

The ability to set a proper dining table is a vanishing art. It's often a miracle if the dinnerware gets used at all on a busy schedule, but it doesn't have to be that way: Learning how to set a dining table is easy and can be done in short order. By following this simple process, you will impress dinner guests with a classy and personalized dining table. Note that these instructions detail how to complete one proper setting. Simply repeat the process for each setting needed.

Set the Table:

  1. Lay down the foundation. Choose a color scheme or a party theme that adds to the personal style of your dinner gathering and pick a tablecloth to fit with the theme. White is a good standby for formal or traditional themes. Spread the tablecloth over the table. Place the centerpiece or flower arrangement in the center of the table.

  2. Place the dinner plate and soup bowl. Place a dinner plate in the center of the setting area, which is directly in front of the chair. If serving soup or salad, place the soup bowl or salad plate on top of the dinner plate.

  3. Place the utensils. Lay the dinner fork directly to the left of the dinner plate. Lay the salad fork directly to the left of the dinner fork. The bottoms of the forks should be lined up evenly. Place the dinner knife directly to the right of the dinner plate with the blade facing the plate. Place the soup spoon to the right of the knife and line up the bottoms of these pieces.

  4. Place the glasses. Stagger a drinking glass and a wine glass starting from the tip of the knife on the upper right side of the plate.

  5. Place the bread plate. Set the bread plate just above the tips of the forks. Lay the butter knife across the bread plate.

  6. Place the dessert utensils. With one stem pointing to the left and one pointing right, place the dessert fork and dessert spoon sideways just above the plate.

  7. Add a napkin. Fold a cloth napkin and place it to the far left of the setting, beside the forks. A basic fanfold is a classic look, but you can also learn fun ways to fold the napkins to add whimsy to the table.

  8. Complete the look. Place a name card on top of the plate stack. To add personal style to the gathering, make your own name cards with seasonal accents. Adjust the decorations, if necessary. For a centerpiece, something of moderate size is best; you don't want it to overpower the table. Scented candles are not recommended as they may interfere with the aroma and taste of the meal.

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