Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Basic Tips & Rules of Proper Table Setting Etiquette

Table setting etiquette is the proper placement of eating utensils on a table, with the intention that the diner will have everything they need in within convenient reach. 

 For many people, being confronted by an array of cutlery and glassware at the dinner table can be daunting! All that you need to avoid any social embarrassment is to understand the basics of proper Table Setting Etiquette.
Let me share a few simple rules and tips which will help you through any formal or indeed informal lunch or dinner party.....


  • The golden rule is ALWAYS work from the OUTSIDE, IN. Use the outside knife and fork for the first course (entrée), and then simply work inwards for each subsequent course.
  • Knives are always to the right, and forks are always to the left.
  • The soup spoon, if required, will always be on the extreme right if being served as a first course, or second in from the right if being served as a second course.
  • Dessert cutlery will always be at the top of the place setting with the fork facing right and the spoon positioned above this with the bowl facing left.


Depending on how many different wines are being served, they will normally be positioned above the knives. They should be placed with the water glass to the extreme left, and then follow in the order for which they will be used, working from left to right. For example:

Water - Champagne - White Wine- Red Wine - Dessert Wine


  • It is common practice to find a place plate (or base plate) positioned in the center of the cutlery setting. This will often have the napkin folded and resting upon it. Alternatively, the first course (or entrée) may already be served upon this plate, in which case, the napkin will be positioned to the left of the forks.
  • The side plate  will be positioned to the left of the forks with a side knife (or butter knife) laid across it. If space is a little limited, it is quite acceptable to position the napkin across this plate too.
Finally, all pieces of a proper place setting should be spaced evenly-the same space between cutlery, the same space between glasses and so forth. When the place setting looks balanced and symmetrical, it further enhances the appeal of a proper place setting.


The only proper way to cut and eat one's food is to hold the knife and fork in a relaxed natural manner....never with clenched fists spearing food like a hunter!


  • When seated, unfold the napkin and place it across the lap.
  • If bread rolls are served, break the bread between your fingers rather than cut it.
  • When eating soup, always move the soup spoon away from you to the other side of the dish and "sip" the soup (quietly!) from it.
  • When finished eating, position the knife and fork (or other cutlery used) side by side pointing into the centre of the plate.

Entertaining is intended to be ENJOYED… As long as you are polite and well mannered, a few simple table etiquette "gaffes" will be passed off without a thought. 
 Just relax, and ENJOY YOURSELF!


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