Monday, March 26, 2007

Which fork? Which plate for what?

Confused as to how to set your table for a dinner party?

Basic place settings for a meal consisting of salad, bread, soup, beverages and a main course with dessert and coffee following are as follows:

Plates and Bowls

Dinner plates should be placed approximately 2 inches from the table's edge, centered on the placemat (if using placemats) or directly in front of each chair.

Soup bowls are placed on top of the dinner plate.

Salad plates are placed to the left of and just above the forks.

The bread plate should be placed to the right and slightly above the salad plate.

Another option is if soup will be served first, the soup bowl will be placed on top of the dinner plate and the salad dish will be brought out after the soup bowl and spoon has been cleared.


Silverware should be placed on the table in the order it will be used; silverware that will be used first should be found on the farthest left and right sides of the plate.

Forks are placed to the left of the dinner plate; knives and spoons go to the right.

Knives should be placed with their cutting-edge toward the dinner plate, except the butter knife which should be laid flat on a bread plate.

Utensils should be about 1/2-inch away from the plate or each other, and they should also be lined up evenly from their bottoms.

Avoid placing more silverware than the meal calls for.

If you choose, the dessert silverware can be placed at the table setting before the meal and should be centered above and parallel to the dinner plate. Or if you choose, brought out when the dessert is served.

Cups and Glasses

Water glasses should be placed above the dinner knife, with other drinking glasses arranged neatly nearby the water glass.

Coffee cups and saucers may be placed on the table to the right of the knife and spoon.

Other Items

Napkins are commonly placed on the plate, to the left of the forks or inside of a drinking glass.

Place cards are always a good idea if your dinner party is large. Place the card above the dessert utensil, to the left of the drinking glasses.

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