October 16, 2011

Table Setting Etiquette

 Proper table setting etiquette adds a subtle yet definite touch of class and sophistication to any formal dinner. Fortunately, the techniques of proper table setting are not as complicated as they may seem. Here are a few guidelines that will hold you in good stead for your next formal dinner.
General Table Setting Rules  
  • When setting a table, always remember to work from the outside in, which means the flatware that will be used first should be placed furthest from the center.

  • Silverware should be aligned 1 inch from the table edge and no more than 2 inches if place mats are used. Setting all items the same distance apart from one another enhances the overall look of the table setting.

  • Forks are always placed on the left side of the plate and the soup spoon and knife(s) on the right side, with the cutting edge of the knife facing the plate.

  • Dessert cutlery will always be at the top of the place setting with the fork facing right and the spoon positioned above this with the bowl facing left.

  • Water glass is placed above the knife on the right side of the plate.

  •  Depending on how many different wines are being served, they will normally be positioned above the knives. They should be placed with the water glass to the extreme left, and then follow in the order for which they will be used, working from left to right. For example:
Water - Champagne - White Wine- Red Wine - Dessert Wine
  • It is common practice to find a place plate (or base plate) positioned in the center of the cutlery setting. This will often have the napkin folded and resting upon it. Alternatively, the first course (or entree) may already be served upon this plate, in which case, the napkin will be positioned to the left of the forks.
  • Bread and butter plates (side plates) are not a compulsory element in table setting but when used, they are placed on the left side directly above the fork with a butter knife laid across it. If space is limited, it is quite acceptable to position the napkin across this plate too.
  • If soup is being served, the soup bowl is typically set on the dinner plate and is cleared away as soon as the soup is finished.
  • Coffee cup and saucer are placed to the extreme right after the knife and spoon.
  • If you are hosting a large dinner party, then a table plan and place cards are essential. For a smaller party however, avoid such unnecessary protocol. Simply, casually direct dinner guests to sit where you would prefer them to.

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