Are you hosting Thanksgiving this year?! Do you know the proper place setting for both an informal and formal dinner? No, well I’m totally here to help you out.
First let’s talk about an informal table setting. This is typically a place setting for a dinner party of six or fewer people and is described as a casual dinner. Normal dress, a regular dinner menu and everyday dishes are standard. This is, for most people, their most commonly used place setting. Here’s the breakdown:
1. A plate rests in the center of the place setting. Again, regular dishes are standard here.
2. A napkin rests on the plate.
3. A dinner fork sits to the left of the plate. If you are serving salads, it’s polite but not necessary to place a smaller salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. And as a general etiquette rule when using flatware, always start outward and work your way toward the plate.
4. A dinner knife sits directly to the right of the plate, followed by a dinner spoon. If you are serving soup, it’s polite but not necessary to place a soup spoon to the right of the dinner spoon.
5. It’s also polite to always include two glasses, for water and wine. The water glass is always placed to the left of the wine glass. If your guest is not drinking wine, it’s always polite to remove the wine glass from the table.
Next, let’s move on to a formal table setting. This is typically a place setting for large events, weddings and special occasions, and it is described as a formal dinner. Formal dress, a coursed dinner menu and fine dishes are standard. Here’s the breakdown:
1. A dinner plate rests in the center of the place setting. A salad plate sits atop the dinner plate.
2. A napkin can be placed under the flatware or on the plates directly. This usually depends on aesthetics.
3. A dinner fork sits to the left of the plate. A smaller salad fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork.
4. A dinner knife sits directly right of the plate, followed by a dinner spoon. A soup spoon is placed to the right of the dinner spoon.
5. Above the dinner and salad plates sits both a small cake fork and dessert spoon.
6. Above the dinner and salad fork sits a bread plate and small butter knife.
7. Two glasses, for water and wine, sit above the dinner knife and spoons. The water glass is always placed to the left of the wine glass. If your guests are not drinking wine, it’s always polite to remove the wine glass from the table.
8. Place settings or name cards are often used with formal place settings. They can be placed near the dessert spoon and cake fork, or directly on the plate.
9. After dinner and dessert are served, it is common for coffee to be poured. The cup and saucer are placed to the right of the dinner plate.
And just for fun, here are a few dinner etiquette tips that aren’t as well-known as “keep your elbows off the table” but are just as important:
1. Always taste your food before seasoning it.
2. Pass the salt and pepper together.
3. Set any passed item directly on the table instead of passing hand to hand.
4. Always use serving utensils to serve yourself, not your personal silverware.
5. The napkin rests on your lap until the end of the meal. Don’t clean the cutlery or wipe your face with the napkin, and never use it to wipe your nose!
6. Always scoop food away from you.
7. Say “excuse me” or “I’ll be right back” before leaving the table. Do not say you are going to the restroom.