How to Set a Formal Dinner Table?

How to Set a Formal Dinner Table?

Milena Kukurekovic

No doubt, you have all the creative freedom to set a party table the way you like it. But, when it comes to entertaining your guests, you need to learn some techniques to set a formal dinner table. 

The effort to set up a formal dinner table isn't just etiquette to host your guests, but they reflect your care for the guests you have invited over the dinner party.

Though setting up a formal dinner table and learning some new techniques can be tricky for you, once you understand them. You can do it without even thinking for a sec. It doesn't only make you a good host, but it also grooms you about how to act in a formal setting. 

If you have invited someone special to a dinner party, make sure to learn the basic etiquette of setting a formal dinner table. Here's how you should set up a formal dinner party table.

First Course Formal Table Settings 

Begin the place settings by laying the charger plates for each place setting. The charger is a large dish that serves as the underplate for courses that proceed with the main entree. The charger plate never comes in direct contact with food, but the dinner plate is placed on it. 

Dinner Silverware Place Settings

Place the dinner fork on the left side and the dinner knife on the right side of the charger plate. While placing the dinner knife, make sure the knife blade is turned toward the charger plate. This is a formal setting tradition back then when the dinner knives were quite sharp.

Add the salad fork to the left side of the dinner fork, as your guests will have the salad before the main course. For the salad, mini silverware is used, so if you don't have a salad fork, use a fork of a smaller size. 

Next, if you have the salad knife, add it to the dinner knife. However, it's optional but worth shaping a complete formal table setting. 

If you are serving soup on the menu, the soup spoon comes first and goes on the right side of the dinner knife. You always eat with the outermost silverware and work your way into the center. So, only place the serving ware on the outer side that you'll use first. 

Dessert Silverware Place Settings 

You also need serving ware for the dessert. If you have the ice cream in the dessert. Place the dessert spoon on top of the charger plate while its tail is turned right, so it can easily be moved down to its spot ( on the right side of the charger) when dessert is served. 

If you are having a cake on the menu, add the dessert fork to the charge plate below the dessert spoon. While placing the dessert fork, turn its face towards the dessert spoon's tail. 

Consider using the best quality silverware to beautify your place settings. "Smarty Had a Party" offers a wide range of fancy plastic silverware made of high-quality material. The disposable silverware made of plastic is the best choice when serving a large crowd. Our plastic flatware looks like real cutlery while being disposable.

Since you'll have to use plenty of flatware, you'll have to wash a pile of flatware at the end of the dinner. Disposable plastic silverware eliminates this problem and enables you to serve with style and without running clean. 

Plates Place Settings

Once you have laid down all the required disposable flatware according to your dinner menu, it's time to add the necessary plates in place settings. Firstly, add the dinner/ regular plate to the charger plate.

Secondly, the bread plate goes on the top left corner of the place settings above the dinner forks. Finally, the butter knife is also on the bread plates at an angle. 

Glasses Settings for Formal Table

Drinkware should also be placed appropriately on the table to follow the formal settings. The drinkware should be placed above the dinner knife. Whether you are serving any drink on the menu, any of the glasses go top right side above the dinner knife. 

Napkin Place Settings

Placing the napkins will complete your place settings. Traditionally the napkin goes on the extreme left side of the place settings next to the dinner forks. However, some people like to place it underneath the dinner forks. But, it's not preferable for formal settings. 

Placing the napkins underneath the dinner forks will make it quite noisy for your guests to pull them out once they sit at the table. The napkin is the first thing guests go for after sitting at the table. Imagine the forks noise while the napkin is being pulled out. 

It should be placed on either the left side of the center of the dinner plate. However, for most, napkins are just a piece of cloth used to cover the lap. But, it can be a piece of art for your tablescape decor. 

Instead of placing the napkin more simply, present it with style and honor. Like you can fold the napkin into different shapes using simple techniques you can learn online by watching a video. 

It might seem a daunting task, but once you do it, it will ultimately become your place's setting. So first, follow up your event theme to shape the napkin into different shapes—the famous napkin folding techniques are roses, stars, lotuses, and trees. 

Tips for Basic Dining Etiquettes/Manners

Table manners have always been a good "tell" about the person's overall refinement and upbringing. If you don't practice impeccable table manners at home, you must know how to behave on those special occasions. 

  • Before you pull out a chair and sit, wait for everyone to gather around to be seated before you sit down. 
  • Put your phone on silent mode before sitting so you're not disturbed while gossiping with the people around you. 
  • The first thing you may want to touch is the napkin. Put the napkin on your lap. 
  • Posture is also crucial while sitting in a formal setting. Your posture should be upright, and avoid slouching and leaning back at the chair.  


Party on, Smarties! With love, Smarty had a Party!

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