August 7, 2014

How to set a table – the right way

Setting the perfect table with La Belle Assiette.

how to set a table

Don’t let the copious amounts of cutlery, glassware and crockery confuse you, knowing how to set a table is easier than you might think!

Simply start with the basics and add to it from there:

  1. Utensils are placed in order of use
  2. Forks go to the left and knives go to the right of the plate
  3. Spoons go above
  4. Only set the table with utensils that will be used

What you’ll need for each person:

  • Cutlery – knives, forks and spoons
  • Crockery -plates, cups, saucers and bowls
  • Glassware – wines, Champagne, water etc.
  • Napkins
  • Tablecloths
  • Centrepieces and decoration

So those are the basic rules, what follows is a more detailed guide on what goes where.


  • The plates should sit in the centre of the place setting
  • The plate, napkin and cutlery should be places 1-2 inches away from the edge of the table
  • Forks are set to the left of the plate with prongs facing up and placed in order of use outside in.
  • The napkin should be placed to the left or underneath the fork alternatively it can be placed on the plate.
  • Knives are placed to right with the sharp blade facing the plate.
  • Soup spoons go to the right of the knives
  • Dessert forks and spoons should be placed above the plate with the fork tip pointing right and the spoon left.
  • Cheese knives should be brought out with the cheese course (if you’re having one)
  • Glassware should be set above and to the right of the dinner plate, in order of water glass, red wine, white wine from left to right.
  • Side plates go to the left.


For comfort you should try and leave 30cm between guests.

Only one plate must be on the table when guests arrive in your dining room. However, if you are serving a soup or an appetiser, place the soup plate or the dish for the starter onto the plate meant for the main course.

The butter dish should be placed to the left above the main plate, with a small plate and a small individual knife


Here’s an image that will help you picture how it should look.



The tablecloth

Finally before spreading the tablecloth, it’s a good idea to lay a fleece over the table so that if there is an accident your table underneath will be protected from stains. The fleece will also soften the noise of plates as you lay them on the table, the clink of glasses and it will even prevent wrinkles appearing on your tablecloth.

Tip: the tablecloth should be at least a foot below the top of the table. But be aware, if it can naturally fall lower, it should not fall to less than 6 inches above the ground, such as to avoid inconveniencing the feet of the guests.

These are the main rules that will allow you set a table without making any mistakes!

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