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T is for Table Setting

This formal place setting features a wide array of dining table elements, including an eight-course utensil selection.

Whenever possible, place settings should be situated at least a foot apart, allowing diners sufficient personal space and elbow room for proper eating. Utensils are lined up about an inch from the table’s edge, with the plate aligned with them. Knives are always turned so that their sharpest edges face the plate.
Formal Place Setting
Here’s the proper line-up for a formal dining table place setting.

The formal place setting is best arranged atop a simple, but elegant, tablecloth. Place mats should be saved for more casual dining occasions.

Following are the most popular pieces employed in an eight-course formal meal. The photo (at left) shows the correct arrangement of these elements.


  • butter spreader
  • cocktail fork
  • dessert fork and spoon
  • entree knife and fork
  • fish knife and fork
  • main dinner knife and fork
  • salad knife and fork
  • sorbet fork
  • soup spoon

  • bread plate
  • charger plate
  • knife rest
  • lidded butter dish

Casual Place Setting
  • champagne flute
  • red wine glass
  • sherry glass
  • water goblet
  • white wine glass
Other items:

  • candlesticks
  • dinner napkin with ring
  • place card holder
  • salt and pepper shakers

Generally speaking, a proper place setting arranges items strategically, so that a diner will pick up and use eating utensils from the outside-in. As the meal’s multiple courses are cleared away, the diner will be left with the inside utensils for the final serving.
Once the formal table has been set, a proper host will ensure that candles have been lit, butter servings have been distributed to the appropriate dishes, and water has been poured before beckoning guests to be seated.
Last year’s A to Z post: Tardy Trowel

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Formal Table Setting
and Casual Place Setting
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1 comment:

  1. Great reminders! I really only worry about proper place settings at the holidays! ~ Angela, Whole Foods Living,



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