Sitting down to dinner at a properly set table can be a little anxiety-inducing. What fork to use first? Is this the dessert spoon or is it for soup?
This can be equally challenging if you're the host or hostess in charge of setting the table for a formal dinner. Many people are a bit perplexed as to how to arrange the silverware and other items.
Understanding a few basics of table setting, however, can take the mystery out of this ages-old custom. It can also help everyone feel like a fine diner when sitting down to a formal meal.
* Always work from the outside in. That means that the fork on the extreme outside will be the one used for the first course and the same applies to glassware and cutlery.
* Forks appear on the left of the dishes and knives on the right. If a soup spoon is being used, it will be on the far right of the knives.
* Dessert silverware appears above the place setting. The fork prongs will be facing to the right. The dessert spoon will be facing to the left.
* The napkin will be placed on the far left, unless a decorative napkin fold is used. Then the napkin may be placed where the hostess decides.
* If bread and butter will be served, a separate plate and butter knife will be on the table at the top left.
* Plates are stacked according to service. The main course plate will be at the bottom; salad, appetizer and soup bowl will be stacked accordingly on top.
* In terms of beverage glasses, generally the water glass is the largest-rimmed glass and is to the left, while being placed on the right side of the table setting. White wine and red wine glasses will be alongside it.
For those who need some visual assistance, consult the following diagram.
A - Soup bowl
B - Appetizer or salad plate
C - Service plate
D - Water glass
E - White wine glass
F - Red wine glass
G - Napkin
H - Fish fork
I - Dinner fork
J - Salad fork
K - Service knife
L - Fish knife
M - Soup spoon
N - Bread and butter service
O - Dessert spoon
P - Dessert fork