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Tips on Dining Table Settings

by Staff Writer

Woman sets a dining table

A well-set dining table is nearly as crucial to a great meal as the food. Don't underestimate the importance of your formal table setting; properly prepared dining table sets enhance the leisurely enjoyment of a meal, while a sloppily prepared dinner table can diminish the appeal. Read on for a variety of helpful table setting ideas and tips on creating dining table settings.

Setting a Dining Table:

  1. First things first. If there isn't a centerpiece on the dining table, dinner plates should be the first to go on the table. Allow a one-inch space from the edge of the table. Folded napkins can be placed at the center of the dinner plate or set to the left of the forks. Napkins may also be placed on the bread plates, service plates or folded into a glass or goblet as part of a formal table setting.

  2. Cutlery. Cutlery should be placed on the dinner table in the order it is used, from the outside in. There should be a piece of cutlery for each course served in a proper table setting, and a fourth set of cutlery should be brought out if more than three courses are served before dessert.

  3. Fish forks. Fish requires small forks, which will be used first in the dinner table setting. Small forks should be placed to the left of the forks.

  4. Soup bowl. Your soup bowl should rest on a base plate.

  5. Bread and butter plates. Bread and butter plates are set above the forks when organizing dining table sets. Rest the bread and butter knife across the edge of the plate.

  6. On the side. When a side dish is served, set it to the left of the forks and napkins. If it's meant to be eaten with the meal, it can be served on the main plate in a proper table setting.

  7. Salad utensils. A salad fork and knife should be included in the table setting when a salad is served.

  8. Keep an eye on detail. Take time to evenly space the plates, cutlery and glasses in your table setting. It's the little touches and precise table setting ideas that make a table look truly elegant.

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