All About Table Settings

How to Properly Set A Table

It is reasonable not to know where to start when it comes to properly setting a table. The first thing to ask yourself is will you be having an informal relaxed brunch or a fabulous multi-course dinner? No matter what the occasion, the table setting and placement always depends on your menu. Some utensils are optional depending on what you plan to serve. No soup? A soup spoon won’t be needed. No bread and butter? Skip the bread plate and butter knife. If your still not confident, let us at The Palatine be your guide!

Remember the scene in the iconic movie, Titanic, where Jack experienced a first-class dinner for "saving" Rose's life? A rule of thumb we all learned is to work from the outside inward. The outer utensils should match your first course and each utensil after that should match the order in which courses will be served. Let this diagram be your guide and plan accordingly to meet the needs of your menu.

Informal/Casual Table Setting

This setting includes a plate and napkin, two forks to the left, a knife and spoon to the right, and lastly a wine and water glass in the upper right-hand corner.
Tip #1: Include ONLY what you need. Remember that this is just a guide and some pieces are optional.
Tip #2: The blade of the knife always faces toward the plate

Formal Table Setting

Start with the basic informal setting above and add utensils for a more formal meal with more courses and refreshments. The base of this setting is a service plate which is also known as a charger. Place the service plate under the dinner and salad plates. The bread plate and butter knife should be to the upper left corner. The dessert utensils should be above the service plate.
Tip #3: Napkins can be placed on top of the plate, to the side, or under the forks. Some napkin folds might include the utensils which can add a special touch of style to your setting.
Tip #4: For any setting, think of the word “FORKS”. F is for the forks to the left, O is for the plates because of the shape, K and S is for the knife and spoon to the right.


Be able to set a table so that you feel like you’re dining, not just sitting & eating
— MARILYN VOS SAVANT (Growing Up: A Classic American Childhood, p. 45)