So you’re planning your first dinner party, or second…or tenth. Point is, you need to know how to properly set a dinner table. Because how embarrassing would you be if your place settings we’re incorrect in front of your mother-in-law, sorority sister, or new boss?! Below we break down the correct way to set a formal dinner table.


place setting 101

Plates: The charger (your largest “decorative” plate) goes on the bottom, followed by your entree plate and salad plate to top it off. Your napkin will be placed on top of the salad plate. Your bread & butter plate will be placed at the top left hand corner above your other plates (10 o’clock). A smaller butter knife should be placed on top of the bread & butter plate, slightly angled.

Stemwear: If you’re sitting down, the glasswear will go on the top right hand corner above your plate (think 1 o’clock). First it should be a white/red wine glass and then a water glass behind that, slightly to the left.

Flatwear: Growing up, I was always told to think of the word “FORKS” when placing flatwear at a table. You start on the left with the F (forks), the salad fork should be placed on the very outer left hand side, followed by your entree fork to the right of the salad fork. Next is the plate (as your O, like the shape, get it?). Next is the K (knife), followed by the S (spoon). Oh, I forgot the R? Yeah I know… let’s just pretend there isn’t one for the purpose of our table settings. A smaller dessert fork and coffee spoon should be placed horizontally at the top of your plate, with the fork closest to you.

That all sounds a bit fancy. If you don’t feel like all of these items are necessary and want to opt for a more casual setting, just eliminate these items from the above:

Plates: Eliminate the charger, bread & butter plate/knife.

Stemwear: If wine isn’t being served (which it should be if you’re dealing with your mother-in-law), eliminate the wine glass.

Flatwear: Go ahead and get rid of the dessert fork & coffee spoon.

And there you have it! The perfectly set dinner table. Now stock up on the wine and good luck!


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