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Here at OKA, we’re big fans of a beautiful table setting. From patterned linens to elegant glassware and floral centerpieces, we’re always thinking of new ways to bring your dining room table to life. But even with all the dinnerware, napkins and will in the world, you won’t be able to achieve your Pinterest fantasies if you don’t know how to set a table in the first place. From cutlery placement to glassware etiquette, the rules behind laying a table can seem complicated at first, which is why we’ve created these handy step-by-step guides to help you. Whether you’re hosting family and friends, organizing a dinner party for a special occasion or simply want to elevate your every day, read on for our tips on how to set a dining table for any event.
For casual dinners during the week, you don’t need to worry too much about airs and graces, but there are still some steps you can take if you want to bring a more elevated look to informal occasions. Start with the bare necessities—flatware, a placemat, dinner plate, water glass and napkin—and follow this simple guide:
1. Fork 2. Napkin 3. Dinner Plate 4. Water Glass 5. Knife 6. Soup Spoon
● Lay your placemat on the table.
● Place your dinner plate in the center of your placemat.
● Place your fork on the left-hand side of your dinner plate and your knife on the right. If you’re using a spoon, this should go to the right of your knife. Remember to only set the table with the utensils you’re going to use.
● Place your water glass above your knife, so it is to the right of your dinner plate (think of it as being at about 1pm on a clock).
● Your napkin can either be placed on top of your dinner plate or underneath your fork.
For a casual setting, such as a family dinner or weekend brunch, you’ll need the same tools as your basic table setting, plus a few extras depending on the type of food and drink you’ll be serving—for example, you may need soup bowls, salad plates, soup spoons, and wine glasses in addition to your staple cutlery and dinnerware. Once you’ve gathered everything you need, this is how to place them:
1. Fork 2. Napkin 3. Dinner Plate 4. Salad Plate 5. Soup Bowl 6. Knife 7. Soup Spoon 8. Water Glass 9. Wine Glass
● Put the placemat on the table.
● Place your dinner plate in the center of the placemat and put your salad plate on top of the dinner plate.
● If you’re having soup to start, your soup bowl should go on top of your salad plate.
● As with a basic table setting, your napkin should go to the left of your dinner plate.
● Your dinner fork goes on top of your napkin, while your dinner knife and soup spoon should be placed to the right of your dinner plate (pro tip: when it comes to meals with multiple courses, cutlery should be placed in order of use, starting from the outside and working inwards. For example, your soup spoon should be to the right of your knife, as you will be using this first).
● Place your water glass directly above your knife, and, if you’re drinking wine, place your wine glass to the right of your water glass.
For dinner parties or holiday meals, a formal table setting is a great way to make the occasion feel all the more special. Unsurprisingly, these types of table setting are more elaborate, but they are worth the effort. Again, what you’ll need for your meal will largely come down to the food you’ll be serving—for example, if you’re eating fish, you may need a special fish fork or fish knife—but the following steps will help you master the basics.
1. Salad Fork 2. Fork 3. Napkin 4. Dinner Plate 5. Soup Bowl 6. Knife 7. Soup Spoon 8. Water Glass 9. White Wine Glass 10. Red Wine Glass 11. Dessert Spoon 12. Salt Shaker 13. Pepper Shaker 14. Name Card Holder 15. Bread Knife 16. Bread Plate
● Begin with a crisp tablecloth as your base.
● You won’t need a placemat in this instance, so place your dinner plate directly onto the tablecloth. For a more traditional table setting, you can also place charger plates beneath the dinner plates.
● Place your salad plate on top of your dinner plate.
● Next, place the bread plate above and to the left of your dinner and salad plates (think of it as 11am on a clock face). Butter knives should be placed horizontally on top of the bread plate.
● Your choice of silverware and where it goes will be dependent on how many courses you’re serving; if you’re having a three-course meal, for example, there will be more cutlery involved. As a general rule, you should set your dinner fork to the left of your dinner plate, and your salad fork next to your dinner fork. Your knife then goes to the right of your dinner plate, and your soup spoon next to your knife. Your dessert spoon should be placed horizontally above your dinner plate.
● Water glasses go in the top right-hand corner of your place setting, with wine glasses to the right of your water glass. If you’re switching wine between courses, your white wine glass should go next to your water glass, and your red wine glass should be placed behind your white wine glass.
● Napkins can be placed on top of your plates or to the left, undernearth your forks. You can choose whether to fold your napkins (we’d recommend cloth napkins over paper in this instance) or arrange them in napkin rings.
● Dessert plates shouldn’t be set until after the appetizer and main course have been finished, and the dinner, salad and bread plates have been removed. You can place them on top of your charger plate, if you’re using one, or directly on the tablecloth.
● If you’re serving coffee after your meal, cups and saucers should be set below your glassware during the dessert course.
● Once you’ve mastered setting a table, you can move on to the fun part: decorating. Beautiful table linens, colorful glassware, patterned dinnerware and floral centerpieces will all help to bring your tablescape to life. Then you’ll just need the finishing touches: good food and even better company.