How To: Properly Set A Table

 Saturday night my husband and I hosted a wonderful dinner with family. When we play host and hostess, no matter the formality of the dinner I am quite adamant about a nicely set table: table cloth, matching napkins, glassware, etc. I find that when the table looks elegant it enhances the dinner feel. But as I polished our glassware for the evening, my mind went blank as to where to place the wine glasses: left side or right side? Unless you do formal seating all the time it you may find yourself pausing and second-guessing. So, allow me madams et monsieurs, s’il vous-plait.


Think Julia Roberts “Vivianne” à la Pretty Woman. Guests start from the outside and work their way in when it comes to forks. From the outside in: salad fork, dinner fork (on the left) and teaspoon, soup spoon, salad knife (if you have one), dinner knife (on the right). For knives have the blades facing in.    


Since 85% of people are right-handed, glasses are always on the right. Water glasses are to be placed right above the dinner knife and your wine glass to the left of it. However, if you are setting a teaspoon, the water glass would be placed directly above that with the white wine glass above the knife and the red wine glass to the left of it.


These should not be placed on the table until dinner is served. Typically chargers are used to fill that void; however I broke that rule last night as dinner was served family style. If you are using butter plates, they are placed to the left of the salad fork. 


You can do so many different things with the napkin. For instance, if you are pre-setting you plates the napkin shows well on the middle of the plate, either folded or bound with a ring.  

Tips: If you are pre-setting coffee cups—typically cup and saucer style—they are to be set to the right of the teaspoon.  Also, dessert forks can be preset above the plate with the thymes pointed toward the coffee cup. 

The growing trend is clean, simple and easy—for you and your guests. But if you chose semi or fully elaborate, a properly set table shows that touch of finesse that can often be forgotten.

Categories: Main – At Home