Debi Shaw - Cooking for dinner parties
Proper Table Setting
The way we set our table creates a mood/ambiance that helps set the tone for dinner. Whether casual or formal, whether you have a complete set of matching flatware and china, or choose to combine an eclectic mix of pattern and color, what matters is that when the plates, flatware, glasses and napkins find their way to the table, they should follow a certain convention. Here are examples of a formal table setting as well as a casual setting. In each example you may wish to add a charger plate. The charger is a base plate. The charger is larger than a dinner plate and is never removed from the table, as different dishes are cleared and presented on it. Adding special touches such as place cards, candles, and flowers to the table will help complete your tablescape.

Table Settings guide

Proper Table Setting for a formal dinner:
A- Napkin B- Service Plate C- Soup bowl on plate D- Bread and butter plate with butter knife E- Water glass F- White wine G- Red wine H- Fish fork I- Dinner fork J- Salad fork K- Service Knife L- Fish knife M- Soup spoon N- Dessert spoon and cake fork Note that it is often recommended that the salad fork (J) is placed to the left of the dinner fork (I). However, in this formal setting the dinner fork is placed to be used before the salad fork because it is suggested that the guest awaits the main meal before helping him/herself to the salad. Your formal menu may not include a fish course and/or your tableware set may not include fish forks and knives. If you are not serving a fish course, you do not need to add a fish fork to the setting. If you are serving a fish course but do not have a fish fork in your flatware set, it is perfectly acceptable to use a replacement utensil in its place.

Informal table setting

Informal Table Setting (Above the plate to the left and right):
Bread and butter plate, butter knife, wine/water glass. (Plate row. Left to right): Napkin, salad fork, dinner fork, salad plate, dinner plate, dinner knife.