What Are Some Basic Rules for Setting a Table?

What Are Some Basic Rules for Setting a Table?

Basic rules for setting a table include only putting out the necessary dishes and utensils, and putting forks on the left and knives and spoons on the right. Candles and flower centerpieces should be low to the table and their scents should not overpower the food.

Glasses go above the knife. Formal dinners with multiple courses require multiple utensils. Place the utensils in order of use from the outside of the setting toward the plate. The salad fork is to the outside of the main course's fork.

Do not include the soup spoon, salad fork or bread plate and knife if not serving those courses. Place dessert forks or spoons above the plate in a formal setting, or bring them out with dessert.

Place napkins on the underplate or directly to the left of the underplate in a formal setting. In a casual setting, place the napkin on the plate or to the left of the plate, either under the forks or to the left of them. Fold napkins into a design or arrange them in a neatly folded rectangle.

Floral centerpieces should be low enough to allow diners to maintain eye contact during the meal, and their fragrance should be negligible. Use scentless candles and light them for meals after dusk.