Dining Place Settings- Decoded

December 21, 2015

Where does that glass go? How about this tiny fork? Table settings can be a little confusing sometimes, especially when you throw multiple courses and accompanying wines in the mix. These dining diagrams will help you impress your guests and keep all your dinnerware straight. 

Casual Dining

This is a simple and totally functional setting that covers most dining situations. The utensils consists of a salad fork, main fork, knife, spoon and dessert fork or spoon depending on what sweet treat you’re serving. The forks are arranged on the left side of the plate with the entrée fork being closest to the plate. To the right of the plate, place the knife (sharp side pointing toward the plate, then the spoon. The dessert fork or spoon goes above the plate. The water glass goes directly above the knife and the wine glass (use a general, all purpose glass that can work for either white or red if you’re giving your guests more than one wine to choose from) goes to the right of the water glass. The napkin goes on top of the plate or in the space where the plate will be if you are not setting it out prior to the meal.

Semi Formal Dining

To take it one notch up the fancy ladder, add another knife closest to the plate (a sharper knife such as a steak knife is preferred), place both a fork and spoon above the plate for dessert, and have both a red and white wine glass to the right of the water glass (from right to left: water, white wine, red wine). 

Formal Dining

If you’re going for a practically regal affair, a formal dining setting includes a gamut of utensils and glassware. You’ll want to set the following forks from left to right: Salad, fish, main (1), main (2). Above the forks is where the bread plate and butter knife will find their home. In the center you’ll place the charger plate and napkin. Above that place the dessert fork and spoon as well as the guest’s escort card. To the right of the charger plate place the steak knife, main knife, fish knife, salad knife, and soup spoon. The water glass finds its place above the leftmost knife and traveling to your right you’ll place the champagne flute, white wine glass, red wine glass, and dessert wine glass. 

The important thing about planning your table setting is to customize it to the meal you are serving and the environment you hope to foster. These guides are a good starting point, but be sure to make the table your own. 


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