Table Setting : A Basic Guide on How to Set a Table the Proper Way

If you think preparing a sumptuous three-course meal is stressful, try to set a table for a formal dinner party or a luncheon. And more so if you have no clue what cutlery set you will need or even the proper way to set a table.

Worry no more, we got you covered here!!
Whether you want to learn to impress your guests in your next dinner party or just to treat your family to an elegant dinner at home, this guide will definitely up your hosting skills.

In this piece, we will take you through the proper way to set a table for different occasions. You will also learn some hot tips for when setting the table. So read on.

What will you need for your table setting?

Well, let’s start from this point because without the entire necessary cutlery set, there won’t be any need to set the table.

You will need:

•    Glassware: water glasses and wine glasses
•    Dinnerware: soup bowls, dinner plates, side plates, cups, saucers,
•    Flatware: spoons, knives and forks
•    Table cloths and place mats
•    Napkins
•    Centrepiece that is at most 10-12 inches

Basic Table Setting

This can be an everyday kind of setting for your family or just about any occasion. Just as the name

suggests, this kind of setting only needs basic pieces. That is the dinner plate set, fork, water glass, napkin and spoon. Everything is then placed around the dinner plate in the order of which they will be used.

How should cutlery be laid out

•    Position the dinner plate at the centre of the place setting.
•    To the right, place the knife and then the spoon. The knife’s edge should face the plate.
•    To the left, place the fork.
•    Place the water glass above the knife.
•    Place the napkin either under the forks or on the plate

Casual Table Setting

This is a perfect setting for when you have family and friends over for a simple dinner party, lunch or even breakfast and you do not want the occasion to appear too formal or less ‘elegant’. You will need a place mat, knives, forks, spoons, water and wine glasses, napkins, dinner plates, salad plates and soup bowls.

How should cutlery be laid out

•    Place the dinner plate at the centre of your place mat then place the soup plate on top of the dinner plate. The salad or bread plate goes above the forks. The butter knife is then laid across the plate.
•    To the left, lay your folded napkin and place your dinner fork on top of it. If you will serve some salad, place the salad fork to the right of the dinner fork. The salad fork can also be used in place of a dessert fork.
•    To the right, place the knife and soup spoon.
•    As for the cup and saucer, place them above the spoons. The handle should face towards the right of the spoons.
•    Place your water glass then wine glass in that order, slightly above the knife.
•    Place the salt shaker and the pepper shaker at the top of the place mat. If you would rather not have individual shakers then place them either at the centre of the table or in the middle of each table end.

Formal Table setting

This is for when you want to go all about with impressing your visitors for a breakfast, luncheon or (red and white wine glasses), salad and dinner forks, butter knife and centrepieces.

dinner party. This type of setting screams elegance, sophistication and class. You will definitely need more pieces of cutlery; table cloth, chargers, salad, dinner and bread plate, soup bowls, soup and dessert spoon, knives, water and wine glasses

How should cutlery be laid out?


•Lay your table linen; choose the best that you have. You should have one for such very special occasions.
•    Set the charger at the centre of your place mat then place the soup bowl on top of it.
•    Place the napkin to the left side of the charger
•    To the right of the charger, place the knife then the soup spoon. The two should align with the bottom of the charger while the knife’s plate should face towards the charger.
•    To the left of the charger, place the dinner fork then the salad fork either on top of the napkin or between the napkin and the charger.
•    On the top left of the charger, place the bread plate then the butter knife on top of it.
•    Place the dessert spoon above the charger. It’s handle should point to the right.
•    Above the knife, place the water glass then the white wine glass. The red wine glass goes an inch above the white wine glass.
•    Once done with the soup, the soup plate should be traded for the dinner plate.
•    Finally, set the place card above the dessert spoon.

Live by these rules always

  • The most important rule to always remember is that the utensils are placed in the order of which they are used.
  • Only set the table with utensils that you intend to use. For instance, if you are not serving tea, don’t set the cups, saucers or the teaspoon. 
  • Unless otherwise, forks should go to the left of the dinner plate, knives to the right as well as the spoons.
  • Place all the flatware evenly spaced. This should be about half an inch from each other and they should be we well aligned with the dinner plate or the charger.
  • And as usual, avoid the urge to start washing the dishes and cleaning up before your guests leave. It is discourteous.

Silverware sets or China sets? Which is your favorite dinner set and why? Share your preference down below on the comments. As usual, we would love to know.


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