My Favorite Dinner Party

Setting the Table

There are numerous resources on the web that provide information on manners and table setting. One organization, the Lett Group/Self Presentations, was kind enough to point out an error on my first draft of the page. Thanks for the help!!

Great dinners? Create a relaxed atmosphere and only put out the cutlery and dishes that will be used for that meal.

It is helpful if you leave yourself the room you need to serve and pick up plates. Dishes are removed from the table while you stand to the left of the person. New plates are served from the right.

Don't put out the teaspoons unless they are going to be used. For informal meals, put out the coffee cup and saucer. If it is a bit more formal then bring them to the table later at the appropriate time. Flowers, please whenever possible, but don't block the view of the guests. The illustration below shows the maximum potential.

Place Setting


1. Napkin - please, nothing paper! See notes on using napkins.
2. Salad Fork
3. Dinner Fork
4. Dessert Fork (note the difference with a formal setting where the dessert fork and spoon are placed at the top of the plate)
5. Bread-butter plate, with spreader (no there is a thing of the past)
6. Dinner plate. Your charger plate, if used, stays on through the meal and comes off with the dinner plate.
7. Dinner knife - serrated edge pointing in towards the plate, if the blade points outward it may be a sign of aggression!.
8. Teaspoon
9. Teaspoon
10. Soup spoon
11. Cocktail fork (working out and towards the plate in order)
12 Water glass - above the tip of the blade of the knife. Wine glasses, forming the triangle, to the right of the water glass in the order in which they will be used
13. Red-wine glass
14. White-wine glass With a modern meal, you can simply have a water and a wine glass. Any others could be brought out as the courses are served.
15. Coffee cup and saucer - but typically brought out at the end of meal when coffee is served.

Informal Place Setting

The setting below is considered an informal place setting. There is no water glass. Minimum of flatware.

Informal Table Setting

Of course with our numerous trips to Italy it is important to note that if serving antipasti, provide a side plate on top of the dinner plate. If beginning with pasta then place a pasta dish on top of the dinner plate.

Formal Place Setting

The setting below is the full meal deal. Note the dessert cutlery is placed at the top of the plate. all the possible knives to the right. If it is really formal, each has their own salt and pepper, or may share but there is no "please pass the salt".

Formal Table Setting


Time for Dessert

When you are ready to serve dessert all wineglasses, except those for the dessert-wine, bread plates, and salt and pepper shakers should be cleared from the table. Water glasses remain on the table for the duration of the meal.