2. Salad Fork
3. Dinner Fork
4. Dessert Fork
5. Bread and Butter PlateWith spreader
6. Dinner plate
7. Dinner Knife
10. Soup Spoon
11. Cocktail fork
12. Water Glass
13. Red-wine glass
14. White-wine glass
15. Coffee cup and saucer
Setting the Stage
Start by setting out the dinner plates. It’s very important when setting a table to make sure your guests will be comfortable. Make sure to set the plates far enough apart that your guests will have sufficient elbow room—about 2 feet apart from plate center to plate center.Once your plates are set, you can use them to balance the rest of your place settings. Cups and glasses go on the right side of the plate, butter and salad plates to the left.
Where’s the Silverware? To create a truly formal atmosphere, use sterling silver flatware. Place it in the order of its use, from the outside in, from the first course to the main course. Your guests will feel comfortable if you arrange the silverware properly – you don’t want them to have to look around to figure out which fork to use. To make it simpler, don’t put out utensils that won’t be used.
Forks should be placed to the left of the plate, knives and spoons to the right. The only exception to this is a small cocktail fork, which goes on the outermost right side of the plate. Place knives with their cutting edge towards the plate. All of the utensil handles should line up. If possible, you’ll want to remove the used utensils after each course so your guests can start with a clean slate.
The napkin should go to the left of the forks. When serving bread or rolls, place a butter plate above the forks to the left of the plate and include a butter knife or spreader.
If you serve dessert, the silverware should be placed above the plate with the fork handle to the left and the spoon or knife handle to the right (the cutting edge should face down). Or you may just want to bring out dessert silverware with the dessert.
The Drinks – What’s a formal dinner without a little vino? Wine glasses should be placed above the knives in a straight row, slanting downward from the upper left, going from biggest to smallest. You don’t want the smaller glasses hidden behind the larger ones. An example would be a water goblet in back, wine glass, then a dessert wine glass closest to your guest.
And if you’re not having wine, replace the wine glasses with iced tea glasses, tumblers for water, or mugs for beer. If you plan to serve coffee with the meal, place the cup and saucer to the right of the setting, with the coffee spoon on the right side of the saucer. Otherwise, bring the coffee out with dessert.
Though a well set table is impressive, the most important thing to remember is that the table setting can put your guests at ease. This allows everyone to concentrate on good food and good conversation, which is what a dinner party is really for.