Dinnerplan Hacks

How to set up the table for a dinner party



When setting a table for a dinner you can go in many directions, according to your style, preferences and options. Nevertheless, even the very elaborated table set-ups all follow a logic and once you understand it, you cannot go wrong. The way to set up a table contains a practical element: according to the food that will be served everything is displayed in a way so you can access it in the easiest possible way.  For example, as most people cut with their right hand, knives are placed on the right side of the plate and the forks on the left side. Stemware is placed above the knives on the right side of the plate, as most people hold it with their right hands.

An important thing to consider is that the table contributes to the whole ambience of the dinner, so take the spirit of the dinner and the food you serve and extend it to the table.

Related: How to organise a stress-free dinner party

The basic elements you need when arranging your table are:

  • Plates: The plates go in the middle. Plates will change with the different courses; you can bring them as you serve them. If you are adding a small plate for bread, this one goes above the forks on the left.
  • Silverware: Silverware is displayed in the way you will need it from outside in. The farthest out will be used for the first dish and then removed, as you move to the next dish you will pick the next set. Forks go on the left side of the plate, knives on the right side and spoons on the left of the knives. Dessert spoons can be placed above the plate, or brought later with the dessert. You can keep just one set of silverware for the whole dinner, again it all depends on your preferences and options.
  • Stemware: Glasses should be placed above the knife (water and wine glasses), others like coffee cups or dessert wine glasses, can be brought later, if needed.
  • Napkins: Napkins can be placed in the center of the plate, or on the right next to the fork.
  • Center pieces: Chose them carefully, considering how much room you need in the table to serve the food. Beware that you should use pieces that are not too overwhelming or big, so your guests can see each other.

There are additional pieces that embellish and glamorize the table like fabric napkins, napkins holders, service plates (changers), plate details of decoration, etc. While these are not necessarily needed, when used, they can bring an additional special charm to the table. Of course, what’s most important for most brunches and dinners is enjoying food together with other people and everything else is just detail.