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Three Table Setting Styles You Need to Know

Updated on November 21, 2017
Set the tone of your event with a classic table setting style!
Set the tone of your event with a classic table setting style! | Source

Why Are Table Settings Important?

How you set the dining table sets the tone for any gathering. The tableware and setting plan vary depending on the event, and can be as important as the food you serve. The first steps to putting a beautiful and well-planned meal together are to understand table setting basics and the different style options available. Three common table setting plans you can use are: formal, casual, and buffet. Choose the best one for your event, and your guests are sure to have a great time!

What Do I Need for a Table Setting?

Formal Table Setting
Casual Table Setting
Buffet Table Setting
Dinner plate and fork
Dinner plate and fork
Multiple dinner plates
Salad plate and fork
Spoon
Fork
Knife
Knife
Spoon
Bread and butter plate
Drinking glass
Knife
Butter knife
Napkin
Drinking glass
Spoon
 
Linens
Water and wine glasses
 
 
Linens
 
 
Formal Table Setting
Formal Table Setting

Formal Table Setting

This table setting works ideally for festive family dinners, holiday celebrations, weddings, and semi-formal events. The specialty items used depend on the formality of the event and meal plan, so this style requires the most tableware.

The formal table setting includes:

  • Dinner plate and fork
  • Salad plate and fork
  • Knife
  • Bread and butter plate
  • Butter knife
  • Spoon
  • Water and wine stemware
  • Linens.

How to arrange a formal table setting:

  1. On the left side of the dinner plate (from left to right), place an individual salad fork and dinner fork. The individual salad fork is used when salad is served before the main course.
  2. Place the bread, butter plate, and butter knife above the salad and dinner forks.
  3. A salad plate is not set. If salad is served before the main course, the salad plate is placed on top of the service plate.
  4. Place the service plate in the center with a napkin or soup bowl on top. The appetizer/first course should be put on top of the service plate.
  5. On the right side of the dinner plate (from right to left), place the soup spoon and dinner knife. If you're serving an appetizer in lieu of soup, place a cocktail or oyster fork to the right of the knife.
  6. To the right above the knife (from left to right, forming a triangle), arrange the water goblet, (white) wine glass, and champagne flute.
  7. Dinner spoons and forks may be placed horizontally above the place setting, with the spoon facing right and the fork facing to the left. Otherwise, they may be brought in on the dessert plates.
  8. The cup, saucer, and teaspoon may be brought in with the dessert or served separately.

During the meal:

  • When the main course arrives, the used appetizer, soup or salad plate should be removed along with the service plate. The entrée will be served on the dinner plate immediately afterward.

Casual Table Setting

The casual table setting is perfect for every day use, and only requires the basic essentials for a meal.

The casual table setting includes:

  • Dinner plate and fork
  • Spoon
  • Knife
  • Drinking glass
  • Napkins

How to Arrange a Casual Table Setting:

  1. Place the dinner plate in the center of the setting.
  2. On the left side of the plate, set the dinner fork on top of the napkin.
  3. The drinking glass should be close to the top right of the dinner plate.
  4. On the right side of the plate (from right to left), place the dinner spoon and knife. The knife blade should face the center.

Buffet table setting
Buffet table setting | Source

Buffet Table Setting

This table setting is flexible based on your needs and space limitations. The food is arranged down the length of the tables, and you can work creatively with the space to organize dish placement for the best eating experience. The buffet spread is the easiest way to serve a large number of guests at once.

The buffet table setting includes:

  • Flatware
  • Multiple dinner plates
  • Drinkware
  • Linens.

How to arrange a buffet table setting:

  1. Dinner plates should come first, followed by the entrée and serving pieces.
  2. Leave enough room between the serving bowls so that guests can rest their plates in the spaces while they wait to move down the line.
  3. The napkins and flatware should be placed at the end so they don't need to be carried while people are getting their food. The napkins should be large enough to fit comfortably on your lap, and it's helpful to wrap the flatware in the napkin for easy handling.
  4. Set up a side table for coffee, tea, and other beverages.
  5. Dessert can be set at a side table. If space is an issue, the main buffet can be cleared and reset for the dessert.

You're Ready to Entertain Your Guests!

The type of table setting you choose as well as the food you serve can make a meal a great success. Using proper table etiquette can also help set the mood for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Have fun putting together the ideal table setting plan for your event, and make an event to remember!

Comments

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  • Maryanne Maguire profile image

    Maryanne Maguire 7 years ago from Santa Monica, CA

    The buffet table style sounds great for upcoming end of summer events going on here. THanks for the heads up -- and ideas!

  • profile image

    kwarepoge 7 years ago

    thanks for the info.

    anyway,what is the difference between American table setting, Russian table setting, French table setting and Buffet table settng?

    thanks...

  • beth811 profile image
    Author

    beth811 7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    Thanks, habee.

  • habee profile image

    Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

    Beautiful! I really enjoyed this hub AND the pics!

  • beth811 profile image
    Author

    beth811 7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    Thank you for your nice comment, jenniferhughs.

  • jenniferhughs profile image

    jenniferhughs 7 years ago

    I always appreciate a nicely set table. It drives me crazy when someone sets the table with forks on the right of the plate and knives on the left. Glad you are setting the record straight. Great Hub.

  • beth811 profile image
    Author

    beth811 7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    Go back to this hub Maita as your guideline when there is occasion and don't forget to invite me, ok? LOL...

    Thanks for reading.

  • prettydarkhorse profile image

    prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

    wow, very nice friend, I want to eat now, useful for me, I set the table always, one time i will do this, thanks beth, Maita

  • beth811 profile image
    Author

    beth811 7 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas

    Thanks, GH.

  • GeneralHowitzer profile image

    Gener Geminiano 7 years ago from Land of Salt, Philippines

    wow Hataw ha Beth, you are slowly gaining ground ha... I am keeping my eye on you especially when you reach the 100 Author Score plateau...