Sometimes it’s nice to properly set the table for a special occasion. Whether it’s a dinner party, anniversary or just a nice evening for two, here’s our guide on table setting etiquette.
How to set a table:
- Dinner plates should sit in the centre of the place setting. Place your cutlery on the table in the order of use, starting from the outside and working inwards with each course.
- Forks should be set to the left of the plate, with knives placed to the right, blade edges facing inwards. Soup spoons should be placed on the right of the knives.
- Place the dessert fork and dessert spoon above the plate with the fork prongs facing right and the spoon bowl facing left.
- Side plates always go on the left of the dinner plate.
- Glassware should be set above and to the right of the dinner plate and should include a red wine glass, a white wine glass and a water glass.
How to dress your table:
Now you’ve mastered the basics, here’s how to make your table decor even more special with the addition of a few extra accessories:
Nothing says ‘special occasion’ more than a crisp white tablecloth. A tablecloth should fall at least a foot below the top of the table but not be closer than 15cm to the ground. Before spreading the tablecloth, it’s a good idea to a lay a table protector over the table to prevent spillages or hot dishes from marking it.
Put placemats underneath each place setting. Try and leave a minimum of 30cm between each guest for comfort. Use a combination of cloth and chargers to add a new dimension to your dining table.
You’ll be pleased to know that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to napkins! You can either fold a napkin in half and place it to the left of the plate, underneath the forks, or, for more ornately folded napkins, you should place them in the centre of the dinner plate. Choose linen and cotton napkins for formal dinners, and high-quality paper napkins for a more casual dining experience.
Cup and saucer:
Always set the cup and saucer for tea or coffee, along with a suitable stirring spoon, a few centimeters to the right above the outer most piece of cutlery.
Bread and butter plate:
This small round plate, commonly called a side plate, should be set to the left of the forks. It can also go slightly above the forks, as long as it remains to the left of the dinner plate. Place a small butter knife or butter blade horizontally over the plate, the blade facing to the left.
There’s plenty of specialist cutlery available if you plan on serving something a little different. Oyster forks, lobster picks, snail tongs and fish knives and forks can all be added to the formal table setting. Just remember to place them in order of use and you’ll be fine.
The fun part of setting a table is the décor. Candles, flowers, name card holders, runners and napkin rings can all be added to dress up a table. Setting a colour palette is a good way to start, then you can build up a collection of little extras to make the table shine.
Find the perfect cutlery set for your table setting at our online shop.