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How to Set a Dining Table

Beth is a mom who works online at home and has a passion for research.

Setting a table is not as tricky as it seems—here is a basic guide to setting the perfect dinner table.

Setting a table is not as tricky as it seems—here is a basic guide to setting the perfect dinner table.

Dining Table Setting

Setting a dining table is almost as important as your food. It is not as difficult as it seems. An attractive table adds to the environment of a meal. In setting a dining table, you need a "place setting" (a spot where each item is placed) for each diner.

Place setting includes the following table appointments or any items used to set a table.

  • Dinnerware (cups, bowls, and plates)
  • Flatware (spoon, forks, and knives)
  • Glassware (all shapes and sizes)
  • Napkins
  • Centerpiece
  • Placemats or table cloths (optional)

Table Setting 101: The Basic Rules of Setting a Table

Here is a basic set of rules for table setting. This can be used either in a formal or informal setting.

Where items should be placed:

  • Plate, flatware, and napkin: one inch from the edge of the table.
  • Plate: at the center of the place setting.
  • Dinner fork: at the left of the plate.
  • Napkin: should be either to the left of the fork, with the fold on the left, under a fork, or on top of the plate.
  • Knife: to the right of the plate with the sharp blade facing in towards the plate.
  • Teaspoon: to the right of the knife.
  • If a soup spoon is needed, it is placed on the right side of the teaspoon.
  • Soup bowl: may be placed on the dinner plate.
  • Drinking glass: at the tip of the fork.
  • If a salad plate is used, place it just above the tip of the fork.
  • Cup or mug: to the top right of the spoon.
A perfectly set table is beautiful!

A perfectly set table is beautiful!

Tips for Setting the Perfect Table

You can do better in setting the table by remembering the following:

  • The table should be clean. You can use a table covering that serves as the background for the food and its appointments, or you can leave the table bare. A table covering helps protect the table and muffles the noise of clanking glassware and dishes.
  • Placemat or table cloths can be used for special occasions.
  • Select flatware and dinnerware which are appropriate for the occasion. Complement them with other table appointments. You can match or blend the colors and textures of the dishes, or you can contrast with something different.
  • Use appointments that match the meal or food to be served. That means a snack can be served on a paper plate with paper napkins, while a home-cook dinner should be served on attractive dishes to show off the meal. On the other hand, party food may be served using the family's best dinnerware and cloth napkins.
  • Only the utensils necessary for the meal need to be placed on the table.
  • Put down the correct number of placemats or a tablecloth if these are being used.
  • If there is room left, place serving utensils and dishes at the table center or on a nearby counter or server.
  • The centerpiece should be attractive. Simple ones such as fresh flowers, a plant or fruits can be used. If candles are used, they should be lit with the flame above eye level. Be sure that the centerpiece is low so that people at the table can see over it. It should also be colorful and blend with the colors of the tablecloth and dishes, as well as fresh and clean looking.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 Beth Arch


NEL PALITEC on July 15, 2012:

i want to learn and how to make a different types of table setting and make my own version of a table setting im ronell from pangasinan philippines 2nd yr HRM.

Beth Arch (author) from Pearl of the Orient Seas on April 20, 2011:

Your comment is greatly appreciated, CompuManic. Thanks so much.

CompuManic on April 18, 2011:

Great article..I just love reading your hubs..

priya on September 04, 2010:

a very nice idea for decorating and to impress our guests.

thanxxxx for the article

Beth Arch (author) from Pearl of the Orient Seas on March 02, 2010:

@ Infohound - Thanks for the input.

InfoHound from Brooklyn, NY on March 01, 2010:

Great Article! If you'd really like to impress, try some intricate napkin folds. There's a really great resource at

Beth Arch (author) from Pearl of the Orient Seas on December 04, 2009:

I agree with you, Ambition. Thanks.

Beth Arch (author) from Pearl of the Orient Seas on December 04, 2009:

Hi, garethp1. Thanks for dropping by.

Beth Arch (author) from Pearl of the Orient Seas on December 04, 2009:

Hi, habee. Yeah, you're right, others don't have an idea on setting the table.

Thanks for following my hubs.

Ambition398 on December 03, 2009:

A great dinner table presentation can really have an impression. Thanks for the reminder!

garethp1 on December 03, 2009:

Great hub. Just in time for Christmas!

Holle Abee from Georgia on December 03, 2009:

Good info. I'm always surprised at how many people don't have a clue about setting a table. My mom was from the old (Southern) school. She taught me this when I was just a kid!