Etiquette Proper Table Setting

table setting etiquette by emily post

Having a dinner party tonight and your guests are coming over in twenty minutes?

Going out to a fancy restaurant and you’re not too familiar with formal silver ware?

Visual Example Formal Table Easy Reference

etiquette proper table setting formal

You can still be set your table properly regardless of formality! Here is how to set a proper informal dinner table.

Visual example of Informal Table

etiquette proper table setting - informal

Table Setting Etiquette Explained

A general guideline in etiquette proper table setting.

* Everything must be geometrically spaced.

For example, the centerpiece is in the actual center, the places at equal distance, and all utensils balanced.

Adapted and Adjusted from Emily Post on Etiquette

A formal place setting consists of:

  1. Service plate positioned so that patterns of the place face the diner (ignore it if it is white, or get white plates to make your life easier)
  2. Butter plate should be placed above the forks at the left hand side of the place setting
  3. Wine glasses, positioned according to size
  4. Salad fork, placed directly to the left of the plate, assuming salad is served with or after the entree
  5. If salad is served as a first course, the salad fork is placed to the left or the dinner fork) basic differences in Continental and American style.
  6. Meat fork, positioned to the left of the salad fork.
  7. Fish fork, positioned to the left of the meat fork. Since it is used first, it is the farthest from the place as we work outside in.
  8. Salad knife, just to the right of the plate (as noted above, the knife placed to the right of the salad knife)
  9. Fish knife, positioned to the right of the meat knife
  10. Butter knife, positioned diagonally at the top of the butter plate
  11. Soup spoon and/or fruit spoon placed outside the knives.
  12. Oyster fork, if shellfish is to be served, beyond the spoons. This is the only fork ever placed on the right
  13. And don’t forget the napkins!

P.s. Usually there are no more than three forks on the table, with the exception of oysters being served, which would make the oyster fork a forth fork.

If more than three courses are served before dessert, therefore, the fork for the fourth course is brought in with the course, or the salad fork and knife may be omitted in the beginning and brought in when salad is served.

table setting etiquette by emily post

Dessert spoons and forks are brought in on the dessert plate just before dessert is served.

Check out the video tutorials below that shows you how to set a proper dinner table

How to Set A Formal Table

For All Your Elegant Dinner Parties At Home

Make your dining experience at home similar to a restaurant! It is essential when you are planning a romantic dinner or your elegant dinner party.

Etiquette expert of Etiquette Now, Rebecca Black, instructs how to set a proper table and which utensil to use.

Important tip: Etiquette is should make sense and be logical.

Important Summary:

Starting from outside, then, left to right.

When in doubt, ask yourself scoop, stab or cut?

Where is your Bread plate? Left

Drink glasses are on your right (B comes before D)

Butter knife should be separate, as butter is on a ‘communal’ plate.

Etiquette Proper Table Setting

Wrong Table Setting

An interesting personal study. I’ve developed a habit when I go to restaurants…I study its table setting etiquette.

They are minor details but this is what distinguishes the fine restaurants.

P.s. Don’t take this knowledge too seriously and reprimand the waiter!

Last Words on Proper Table Setting

In general, there are two types of table setting: Continental style and American style.

Continental style, you’ll find the rest of the world dining to, and American style only in the United States.

You don’t have to worry what style you are eating in, as long as you use the silverware from outside in.

The basic differences are order of foods come that first, such as whether you’ll be served the salad first or after etc, so really, don’t you worry about that!

If in doubt, just follow the person sitting in front of you, or perhaps the one whom you think will probably know best! *wink*

Good luck! – Eunice


Tot Talk Table Setting & Etiquette Placemat

Southern Lady: Gracious Tables: The Perfect Setting for Any Occasion

Simply Divine: A Guide to Easy, Elegant, and Affordable Entertaining

Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests

The Simple Art of Napkin Folding: 94 Fancy Folds for Every Tabletop Occasion

Throwing a dinner party? Here are some suggested Elegant dinner party recipes.

All about the Elegant Dinner Party.

Thank you for reading ‘Etiquette Proper Table Setting’!

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