How to Set a Table: A Great Start
Knowing how to properly set a table isn’t old fashioned – it’s a must. The artistry in setting tableware reflects as much about the host’s attention to detail as does the menu. You can elevate your dinner parties and avoid embarrassment by applying the correct rules of table etiquette explained in our four-part series.
Although the rules for setting a table are numerous enough to fill several tomes, if you remember only the following three tips, you can feel confident that your table fulfills the basic protocol.
- FOrKS: Use this acronym to remember the order in which to place tableware. From left to right, the fork comes first, followed by the plate (the “O” stands for the shape), then the knife (cutting edge pointing inwards), and lastly the spoon. For meals that call for an assortment of any one utensil, work your way inward as the meal progresses, which means that the utensils to be used first (e.g., soup spoons) go on the outside of the setting.
- A-OK: Make the “OK” sign with both hands by touching your forefinger to your thumb and straightening the remainder of your fingers. Your left hand will look like a lowercase “B,” for “bread plate,” which goes to the upper left of the setting, with the butter knife laid diagonally across, handle pointed toward the dinner plate. The lowercase “D” on your right hand stands for “drinks,” indicating that the drink glasses – wine, water, and coffee – all belong on the right-hand side of the table setting, where they are arranged from tallest to shortest.
- The One-Inch Rule: Part of the artistry behind a picture-perfect setting is the spacing between objects – and one inch is the magic measurement to remember. The bottom of the plate should be one inch from the edge of the table, utensils should be one inch from the side of the plate, the water glass should be one inch above the tip of the knife, etc.
The above table-setting guidelines may be applied to any type of event, but they’re just the foundation. Be sure to visit our posts on table-setting guidelines for everyday and events both informal and formal.