Table setting Etiquette :: what goes where?


Are you ever flustered when setting a dinner table for guests,

and wonder what on earth is supposed to go where…?

Where does the water glass go?

Should the dessert forks and spoons

be on top of the plates or to the side?

I'm the first to agree that rules are made to be broken,

(it makes life more interesting)

but sometimes it's nice to know what the correct order is.

And of course, if one is to be a Glamorous Host or Hostess,

one needs all the known tricks up one's sleeve, no?

It makes for a relaxed evening.

There are regional variations,

with slightly different placements,

but here in Australia,

this is the correct way to set a table. 


I mostly serve a soup as an entree at my dinner parties,

because it isn't too filling, can be made ahead,

and easily folds into the cuisine theme of the evening…

….After all, every cuisine style, every country, has a soup.

So I might serve a capsicum-rich Moroccan soup,

a delicate French consommé, a spice-laden coconut based Thai soup

or a dainty Vietnamese broth with glass noodles.

If the entree were to be something requiring a plate,

one would substitute the soup bowl for an entree plate,

and place the entree knife instead of the soup spoon on the right,

and the entree fork to the left of the main fork.


The most important rule is that the cutlery is laid from the outside in,

in the same order as the courses.

Some people like to put the dessert cutlery above the plates

(as I have here, and I always do

because I think it makes the setting less cluttered),

but you can also place it to the left and right of the china,

in the "last" position - working on the outside in rule.

Napkins can be placed on the main plate or the bread plate…

…either is fine and just depends on the aesthetics of the setting.

So it's quite simple to set a table which makes it easy

for guests to know what cutlery to use when.

And that, plus a relaxed host or hostess,

provides a wonderful setting for

a Glamorous Dinner Party, don't you think?