Table setting

Table setting

Table setting refers to the way to set a table with tableware—such as eating utensils and dishware—for serving and eating. The arrangement for a single diner is called a place setting.

The arrangement varies across various cultures.

Table setting

The table should have a centerpiece that performs a solely decorative function. If an informal dinner is being served that will fill the available places at the table, care should be taken to not make the centerpiece too large so that there will be sufficient room to place serving dishes. However, at a formal dinner in Europe, the centerpiece may be huge and, including candles, may extend the full length of the table. Centerpieces should be of low height, so as not to obstruct visibility of diners' faces.

Place setting

Informal settings generally have fewer utensils and dishes but use a stereotyped layout based on more formal settings. Utensils are arranged in the order and the way a person will use them. Usually in Western culture, that means that the forks, bread plate, spreader, and napkin are to the left, while knives, spoons, drinkware, cups, and saucers are to the right, although the left-right order is reversed in a minority of countries. Formally, in Europe, Mexico, Argentina and Philippines, the cup and saucer will not be placed on the table until the very end of the meal.


Utensils are placed about one inch from the edge of the table, each one lining up at the base with the one next to it. Utensils on the outermost position are used first (for example, a salad fork and a soup spoon, then the dinner fork and the dinner knife). The blade of the knife must face toward the plate. The glasses are positioned about an inch from the knives, also in the order of use: white wine, red wine, dessert wine, and water tumbler.

Formal dinner The most formal dinner is served from the kitchen. When the meal is served, in addition to the place plate at each setting there is the roll, the napkin, and the following cutlery/silver: knives, to the rightnever more than threeand forks to the left, also never more than three. Coffee is served demitasse and spoons are placed on the saucer to the right of each handle. The dessert spoon, to the right, and dessert fork, to the left, are placed on dessert plates when brought to the table. The utensils at a formal dinner must be sterling silver. Serving dishes and utensils are not placed on the table for a formal dinner. Vanderbilt, Amy. Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette: A Guide to Gracious Living. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1958. pp. 346-347.] The only exception to these general rules is the protocol followed at the Spanish royal court, which was also adopted by the Habsburg court: accordingly "all" utensils were placed on the right.

At a less formal dinner, not served from the kitchen, the dessert fork and spoon can be set above the plate, fork pointing right, to match the other forks, spoon pointing left.

In Europe, if many courses are to be served, the table is only laid for soup, fish, and meat. The pudding spoon and fork and the savoury knife and fork are then placed on the table as required [Inch, Arthur. Dinner is Served. 2003. Running Press Books London.]


At an informal setting, fewer utensils are used and serving dishes are placed on the table. Sometimes the cup and saucer are placed on the right side of the spoon, about four inches from the edge of the table. Often, in less formal settings, the napkin and/or cutlery may be held together in a single bundle by a napkin ring. However, such objects as napkin rings are very rare in the United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, or Italy.

Family dinner Compared to the Formal Dinner, a Family dinner has fewer dining pieces. The napkin can be placed on the plate. There is usually only one fork, spoon & knife with the dinner fork on the left side of the plate, and the dinner knife & teaspoon to the right. The tableware pieces that make up the family dinner setting are [Replacements, Ltd. - Place Setting Guide] :

1. Salad Plate
2. Butter Plate
3. Dinner Plate

1. Dinner knife
2. Dinner fork
3. Teaspoon
4. Butter spreader

1. Water goblet

ee also

*Silver service

External links

* [ Silver place settings] , from Butler's Guild
* [ Place Setting Guide] , from Replacements, Ltd.


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