Your Place Setting Guide

Explore our guide on how to set a table. Passionate about enriching the everyday, we are an award-winning British Design Brand who have been designing cutlery and tableware since 1955. We’re the experts in everything you need to do in that busy rush before sitting down and sharing great food together, including how to set the table properly.

Laying a table adds a sense of occasion to any mealtime. Our guide to the etiquette behind it provides everything you might need to consider when setting your own table for a dinner party, family lunch or an evening meal for two, so all you need to do is enjoy those long conversations which only happen over a great meal.

If you're hosting a particular celebratory meal, see our specific guides:

Dinner plates

Dinner plates should sit in the centre of the place setting.

Side plates

Side plates always go to the left of the dinner plate, with a butter knife sitting on top of the plate.


Glassware should be set above and to the right of the dinner plate with a red wine glass, a white wine glass and a water glass.

Tea and coffee

Teacup and saucer and teaspoon are placed on the table after the dessert has been cleared away.

Cutlery placement

1. Place your cutlery on the table in the order of use, starting from the outside and working inwards with each course.

2. 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.

3. Place the dessert fork and dessert spoon above the plate, with the fork prongs facing right and the spoon bowl facing left.


Make your table décor even more special, with the addition of a few extra accessories.

A Tablecloth

Nothing says 'special occasion' more than a crisp white linen tablecloth. Your 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 lay a table protector over the table to prevent spillages or hot dishes from marking it.


There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to napkins. Either fold a napkin in half and place it to the left of the plate, underneath the forks, or fold napkins and place in the centre of the dinner plate. Napkin rings add to the sense of occasion.

Choose linen or cotton napkins for formal dinners, or 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 centimetres to the right above the outermost piece of cutlery. These should only be brought out after the dessert course is finished and the setting is cleared away.

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 be placed 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.

Glassware and Barware

Select beautiful glassware for your table to add texture and height. We recommend lead crystal glass for special occasions and a wine coaster to protect your tablecloth.

Extra Cutlery

There's plenty of specialist cutlery available if you plan on serving something a little different. Steak Knives, Fish Eaters and Pastry Forks, Oyster Forks, Lobster Picks, Snail Tongs can all be added to the formal table setting. All of these are available in the Radford cutlery range. Always remember to place them in order of use.

Finishing Touches

Bring personality to your table with additional decor. Salt and pepper mills, Candlesticks, flowers, name cards, runner and napkin rings can all be added to dress up a table.

Adding texture and colour with help your guests feel warmly welcomed.
Build your collection of little extras so you can change and mix up depending on the occasion.

Add Texture

Consider adding and layering different textures to your table, you can do this with our textured cutlery patterns such as Honeybourne or Palm which all add an extra dimension and catch the light beautifully.

Use placemats made of natural fibres, with matching or contrasting tablecloths and add natural greenery or small vases of flowers to add colour and height.


Soft candlelight brings a sense of occasion and romance to your table.

Use tea lights for a gentle glow and taller candlesticks as a centrepiece for your table.

Elegant, rustic or modern, setting the table adds a sense of occasion to any meal. Whatever your style, we have the cutlery and tableware to match and you may find you’ll want to set the table properly, every day.


Built on a solid foundation of passion and tradition, Robert Welch is a British brand with an international reputation for well-designed, functional, and durable cutlery and tableware that can be used every day and enjoyed for many years.