During the holiday season, both planning and attending events are two very popular activities! The type of event can range as wildly as one's imagination can stretch. When planning for a sit-down meal, the type usually falls into two general categories, either Formal or Informal. And when setting the table for a meal in one of these categories, we like to refer to the below Place Setting Guidelines to get each element just right!
Plate: Usually the first thing to be set on the table - set with the napkin on top of the plate.
Two Forks: Set to the left of the plate arranged according to when you need to use them. The dinner fork, the larger of the two forks, is used for the main course; the smaller fork is used for a salad or an appetizer.
Dinner Knife: The dinner knife is set immediately to the right of the plate, cutting edge facing inward. (If the main course is meat, a steak knife can take the place of the dinner knife.)
Spoons: The soup spoon goes to the far (outside) right of the dinner knife; the teaspoon or dessert spoon, which will be used last, goes to the left (inside) of the soup spoon, next to the dinner knife.
Glasses: Drinking glasses of any kind — water, wine, juice, iced tea — are placed at the top right of the dinner plate, above the knives and spoons.
Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course, which will be brought to the table. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains in place for any other courses, such as a soup course, until the plate holding the entrée is served, at which point the two plates are exchanged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entrée.
Butter Plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting.
Dinner Fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.
Salad Fork: If the salad is served after the entrée, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.
Dinner Knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.
Soup Spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.
Butter Knife: The small spreader is paced diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down.
Glasses: These are placed on the right, above the knives and spoons. They can number up to five and are placed in the order they will be used. When there are more than three glasses, they can be arranged with smaller glasses in front. The water glass is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right are placed a red or white wine glass. Glasses used for a particular course are removed at the end of the course.
Napkin: The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate. It can also go to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight.