Set your table properly and impress your guests.

Add a touch of class and sophistcation to your next dinner party by setting your table properly. A formal table setting does not have to be intimidating. Placement of the utensils, glasses and napkin maximize efficiency during the meal. For example, silverware is laid "outside in," meaning the items you will use first are farthest from the plate. Understanding the "map" of the table will help you create an elegant setting for an elegant meal.


Place the dinner plate directly in front of the seat, about 2 inches from the table's edge.

Place salad plates to the left above the fork.

Place the bread above the forks.

If you're serving a soup course, place the soup bowl directly on top of the dinner plate.

Clear dishes after each appropriate course. If several dinner courses are served, replace dinner plates as necessary.


Place forks on the left side of the plate. Put knives, with the cutting edge facing the plate, and spoons to the right of the plate. Put butter knives directly on top of the bread plate.

Place silverware in the order it will be used, so that items farthest from the plate will be used first. For example, salad forks are placed on the outside of the dinner forks.

Place dessert silverware sideways about 1/2 inch above the plate, toward the center of the table. Lay the spoon with the mouthpiece facing left. Lay the fork above the spoon, with the mouthpiece facing right. If the guest were to pull the handles of the silverware down around the plate upon dessert service, the fork would still be on the left and the spoon on the right.


Put water glasses on the right, directly above the knife.

Place wine and other glasses to the right of the water glass.

Place napkins on top of the dinner plates.


  • Never put napkins in any glassware because it can leave lint remnants in the glass, which no one wants to drink. If you are using place cards (usually for larger dinner parties), put them above the dessert silverware, to the left of the glassware.