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How to Set a Formal Dining Table

If you are hosting a dinner party, whether it be formal or just Christmas dinner with the family, it’s never a bad idea to brush on how to properly setting your dining table. This particular set up is to be used with a main course of fish served with bread, soup, salad, appetizer and dessert.

1 – Appetizers – Even though you have the table set perfectly, you might have to also remind your guests as to which utensil they use to begin eating. They will begin by using the flatwear at the outside left and right, and then work their way in towards the plate as more of the meal is served. Stemwear is placed above the plates and to the right, and the bread and butter plates are above and to the left. The flatwear should line up with the lower rim of the charger, which should be removed after everyone unfolds their napkins and places them on their laps. Napkins should be displayed in napkin rings and placed in the middle of the plate. The water glass should be located above the knife. If you are serving wine, white wine glasses should be to the right of the water glass and red wine stemwear should be at the top center.

2 – Soup – If you are planning on serving soup, it is proper etiquette to serve it in a warm dish on top of a dinner plate. The soup is then eaten with the spoon located at the outer right. After everyone is finished, the bowl and spoon should be removed.


3 – Fish – A medium sized plate should be used to serve fish. Use the short, wide fork located the farthest left, and the fish knife at the outside right.


4 – Salad – Salad should be served on a medium sized plate and will be eaten with the remaining fork, which should be wider than all other forks, as it can be used for cutting. After everyone is finished with their salads, the salad and bread plates should be removed along with the wine glasses. Now the table is ready to receive dessert.

5 – Dessert – A small plate should be used to serve dessert along with a coffee cup, or teacup, and a spoon, and a cake fork and dessert spoon. These should be placed upon the dessert plate before hand with the fork’s tines facing right and the spoon’s bowl facing left. The water glass should be the only stemwear left on the table.

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