Guide to formal table setting

With the holidays upon us, many of you young and fabulous professionals will be invited to holiday dinners.  Some of you may even be brave enough to host a holiday dinner this year.

If your family is like my family, we rarely if ever set a formal table for any event.  However, out in the “real” world formal place settings are commonly used and can become confusing and even intimidating.  Have no fear!!  This handy guide to formal place settings should help ease the confusion, allow you to relax and have a good time.  Who knows, you may even be able to pass along a tip or two to the person sitting next to you that didn’t read my blog.

Table Setting

A: Napkin; B: Service plates (food and salad); C: Soup bowl on plate; D: Bread and butter plate with butter knife; E: Water glass; F: White wine; G: Red wine; H: Fish fork; I: Dinner fork; J: Salad fork; K: Service fork; L: Fish knife; M: Soup spoon; N: Dessert spoon and cake fork

A few rules to remember:

  • Always start using your silverware from the outside inward.
  • When setting your silverware without this cheat sheet, remember to place them in alphabetical order – F (forks), K (knives) & S (spoons).
  • Say “Excuse me” or “Excuse me, I will be right back” when leaving the table, it is not necessary to tell others that you are going to the bathroom.
  • Before asking for more food, you should eat all of the food on your plate.
  • Keep your napkin in your lap, once you have completed your meal or if you must excuse yourself, place your napkin in your chair or to the left of your plate.
  • When passing dishes, they should be picked up on the right side and passed to the left. Beverages, however, should be served and picked up from the right.
  • Always taste food before adding additional seasonings such as salt or pepper.
  • When you have finished your meal, place all used utensils on the right side of your plate pointed downward.

If you have any additional questions about table settings, leave me a comment below.


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