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How To Set A Table: Table Setting Guide

How To Set A Table: Table Setting Guide


The details are quite significant when it comes to pleasing your guests, and at a meal of any kind, whether formal or informal, the table will be the center of attention.

That is why it is good to know the steps to create the perfect table for different occasions, such as a birthday, a romantic dinner, or an important meal.

Keep reading and learn the steps and tips to set a table properly to impress your guests. 

The Importance of Table Settings

Imagine that you arrive at dinner, whether casual or formal, and you find that the plates, cutlery, and glasses are arranged in any way on the table, untidy and that when you sit down you have no idea which utensils to use first.

A little awkward right? Make sure this does not happen to you when you host the party!

The influence of ordering the table appropriately lies in several aspects. First, there is the appearance. The aesthetics of the table where your guests will share a delicious meal will be important to elevate the experience and enhance the flavor of the food.

Likewise, it is necessary to give your guests the importance they deserve, and this can be reflected in a well-ordered table, including cutlery, plates, glasses, cups, and other necessary utensils throughout the evening. Making a good impression at the beginning will make your guests feel comfortable, no matter what type of event you are giving.

The atmosphere you create around the table will also be important. Think for a moment about restaurants, they can serve very similar food, but we will always prefer the one where we feel more comfortable.

That is why it will also be necessary to work so that the atmosphere around dinner is the most welcoming.

Now, since we know that it is important to do so, we need to understand how the table is traditionally arranged, according to the different occasions that arise.

Depending on what type of food we are dealing with, there will be different aspects to touch. Whether for day to day, casual or formal meal, below, we will show you the different configurations that have traditionally been used.

In the end, your table will look tidy, and at the same time will be functional.

Dining Table Settings

Proper Table Setting

Well, although it is not what we would usually call a “special occasion” it is okay not to want to ignore the rules of etiquette at home, and so we practice for when we have a special event.

Let´s see what the order of the utensils on the table is for the day to day:


  1. Begin by placing a placemat in front of each seat. Make sure that the one you place matches the decoration of your kitchen since you will be using them daily.
  2. Place the dinner plate in the center of the placemat, if you are serving soup, you can add a soup bowl on top of it.
  3. Now it is the turn to place the flatware. The dinner fork goes to the left of the plate, the dinner knife to the right (with the edge always pointing towards the plate), and lastly, the spoon, to the right of the dinner knife.
  4. The water glass goes slightly above the plate or the knife.
  5. Finally, the napkin. For an informal situation, it can be placed beneath the fork or to the right of it.


With this configuration, you will have on the table everything you need for a meal at home. As you can see, it is very simple to organize and so you and your family will always have a beautiful table at which to taste the food.

It is an ideal activity for the little ones in the house to help in the kitchen, you can teach them with a map how they should order the utensils and so they can also be part of this tradition.


Informal Table Setting

This is ideal for an informal dinner, a party with friends or colleagues, where you want to share moments with those special people for you, without neglecting good traditions. Besides, being the host, you will surely want your guest to marvel at how you have arranged the table.

The casual table setting is not very different from the everyday table setting; however, there are usually other items or utensils to be added, according to the type of meal that you are serving. As a general rule, you should avoid including utensils that your guests will not need while eating.

For example, if you are not having a salad course, it is not necessary to place a salad fork. In this way, your guests will not be confused about what utensils they should use.

Now, let’s see the informal table setting instructions:


  1. The placemat goes on the table in front of every seat.
  2. Put the dinner plate first, in the middle of the placemat.
  3. If you are having a salad course, place it on the dinner plate, and if you are having a soup course, place it on top of the salad place.
  4. Now the flatware. The dinner fork goes to the right of the plates, and then the salad fork goes next to it. On the other side (the left), place the knife first and then on the right of it, the spoon. This is because usually you should place all the utensils in the order they will be used. You first eat the soup, then the salad and after that, the main course.
  5. Directly above the dinner knife put the water glass, and the wine glass goes above and to the right of the glass.
  6. The napkin can be beneath the forks or if you want to be more creative, place it on the top of the soup bowl, using a napkin ring.


Having already passed the step of how to organize the table for a casual occasion, other elements could be added if necessary. For example, you can place salt and pepper for each guest. In this case, they would usually go to the top of the placemat.

You can also add a charger, which is nothing more than a decorative base on which the dishes are placed, although they are usually used in formal dinners, you can choose one of a material that combines with the decoration of your table, looking cozier than refined.


Formal Table Setting

If you already know how to organize a casual table, setting a formal table will be a piece of cake if you follow these tips. The biggest difference between the casual and formal table is the use of the presentation plates (chargers), a tablecloth, and other utensils such as a butter knife and a bread plate.

Of course, the materials and designs of the plates and flatware that you are using play an important part too, because if you are holding an important event, your guests will expect to receive the best.

There are many elements in a formal table, so let’s pay attention to it:

  1. Start by laying out a clean and ironed tablecloth. You can also choose a placemat; however, use a rounded one to give a more formal look. Never use a tablecloth and a placemat together.
  2. Put a charger at each seat. Then place the plates, first the dinner plate, then the salad plate, and finally the soup bowl.
  3. Next, the flatware. On the left, place the salad fork on the outside and then the dinner fork on the inside. On the right, first put the dinner knife, and on the outside the soupspoon. The dessert spoon goes above the charger, and the handle should point to the right. If you need a cake fork, it goes up at the top with the handle pointing to the left.
  4. The bread plate goes on the top left of the charger. Then the butter knife goes diagonally and on the bread plate, with the blade pointing inwards, to the center of the plate.
  5. Above the knife place the water glass. The white wine glass goes on the right of the water glass, a little down. The red wine glass also goes on the right of the water glass, a little upwards.
  6. Above the dessertspoon, place the salt shaker, a place card, and the pepper shaker (in that order from left to right).
  7. Finally, the napkin. Place it folded on the top of the soup bowl.


Although there are several elements, once you start putting them all in place, you will see that you easily become familiar with them.

As you have seen, previously we explain the steps to follow to set your table according to the style and occasion. Depending on the event you are promoting you may need more or fewer utensils, which you must ensure that they are of quality.

However, in the end, what matters is creating an environment where guests feel comfortable and can enjoy an excellent evening together.

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