How to Set a Table for a Dinner Party

You’ve set a date, invited your guests, and prepared a menu for a wonderful dinner party. Now the big question comes: how do you set the table? There are many different types of table settings and a variety of guidelines depending on the style of dinner party and the type of guests you are inviting. However, some things remain constant when it comes to good etiquette. Here are some essentials to remember when it comes to setting the table for your dinner party.

Laying Out the Silverware

Whether you are planning a simple party of a luxurious event, the layout for silverware remains largely the same. Forks go on the left side of the plate, while knives go to the right and spoons go to the right of the knives. You should lay out the amount of silverware needed for each course. This may require multiple forks, spoons, and knives. If that is the case, lay out the silverware so the guests go from the outside in - the fork used for the first course is the farthest to the left, while the fork used for the last course is nearest to the plate, for example. This makes for an easy layout that is intuitive and understandable to all guests.

Consistency in Theme

Unless your dinner party is very informal, you should try for consistency in theme when it comes to your dinnerware. This means using matching sets of silverware for all guests and using dishes that share the same pattern or color set. The specifics of the dinnerware used don’t matter as much as the consistency. This also applies to napkins and, if you use them, placemats. Providing a consistent theme helps guests feel like everybody is equal and also serves as a visual cue to indicate how well prepared you are.

It is also important to remember to change the dinnerware (but not the utensils) out at each course. For example, make sure that the entrée dishes are removed prior to serving dessert. If you follow these general guidelines you will find dinner party setup extremely easy and intuitive.