Setting The Table: Formal Dinner Party

If salad will be served as a first course, place the salad plate on the dinner plate. If table space allows, salad plate can be arranged to the left of the forks. Your place knives are set to the immediate right of the dinner plate, blades facing the plate. The soup spoon, if needed, goes to the right of all knives. Forks are placed to the left of the dinner plate in the order of their use, from the outside toward the plate.


For a formal Dinner the salad is served European style, after the entrée, place the salad fork to the right of the place fork, next to the plate. If you are setting a salad knife, place it on the right of the plate to correspond with the placement of the salad fork. The only exception to "forks on the left" is if you are in the need of an oyster or shellfish fork. The oyster fork is placed on the right side of the dinner plate, to the right of the knives.

Dessert spoons and forks can be placed horizontally above the dinner plate or can be brought to the table with the dessert plates. Water goblets should be set just above the top of the place knife. The wine glass, red or white, is placed slightly to the right of the water goblet. When using both red and white wine glasses, place them to the right of the water goblet, red then white. Place a Champagne flute behind the other two wine glass; thus forming a triangle.

A cup and saucer are not part of a formal place setting. They should be brought to the table along with the teaspoon and the dessert plate.

Do not forget about your napkin. Arrange a folded napkin down the center of the top plate. If soup bowl is set on the top plate, then place the folded napkin to the left of your forks.