Basic Table Setting Instructions

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Are you hosting a nice dinner or about to attend one?  In this article Rhonda explains setting up a basic table setting as well as which order you should use your utensils when sitting at a basic table setting!

Would you like to feel more comfortable sitting before or setting a proper table? Would you love some tips to help you remember which bread and butter plate is yours or where to place your napkin?

Luckily, dining is not usually as formal as it used to be; however, there are still some things that will never change. While having and using good manners is up to you (like eating reasonable sized bites and closing your mouth to chew), beyond how to set a table, we can help with the questionable components of the dining experience.

How to create a basic table setting:

Whether it is casual or formal, these general tips will get you prep and get through any dinner party with ease.

  • Utensils are placed in the order they are used from the outside in–so salad fork, then dinner fork, on the left, soup spoon, salad knife, dinner knife of the right, etc.

 The Basic Table Setting Acronym:

  • Remember the acronym FOrKS! F=forks, O=round plate, K=knives, S=spoon

Basic Table Setting Diagram

  • A simple way to remember which water glass and bread plate is yours is as easy as looking at your hands while pressing your thumbs and index fingers together:

b=bread and d=drink.

Basic Table Setting Bread plate & Water glass

  • Place cards are a great way to mix things up, but remember if you’re the host to keep couples together. There are cute themed designs available for whatever occasion you may have, if its Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays or something celebratory like a graduation dinner or a group father/daughter dinner, there are beautiful cards to add to the dinner party.

Use these pictures to help set a table the way it is done traditionally. Remember that not everyone will know how to set a table properly, so be gracious with your dinner party guests.

How to be a good dinner party guest

Its not just how we create a basic table setting, it is also how we are after the table is set. Most dinner parties to do not require being formal, it doesn’t matter if you are the host or the guest, but these are some reminders that we all may forget from time to time (especially with phones).

  • The host is the leader that everyone follows- When to sit, place napkin in lap, take the first bite; these are a few of the actions that guests are to respond to your lead. SO, if you’re the host:
    • Don’t busy yourself in the kitchen and leave your guests unguided.
    • Sit, place your napkin in your lap, and begin the meal THEN, if you must, excuse yourself to the kitchen.
  • If you’re the guest, be a good follower.
    • Always put your napkin in your lap,
    • Wait to take your first bite,
    • Rest your utensils on your plate as opposed to the table when not in use and NEVER place your personal goods (i.e. cell phone, handbag) on the table.
    • Try to find common ground with your dining companions. If you would like to be a more comfortable conversationalist, take a few moments to listen to this TLM podcast on thriving during dinner parties.
  • When eating family style:
    • Pass dishes to your right
    • Receive dishes with your left hand and serve yourself with your right hand.
    • Platters that are passed this way are passed in an simple, orderly manner and so that you never have to reach across anyone at the table.
  • When asked to “pass the salt”, always hand the pepper shaker as well. This is basic etiquette and insures other guests are not looking all over the table for the set when it is asked for by another person.

Again using your manners is up to you, so be thoughtful. If you see a need, offer to fill it. For instance, if you see several guests with empty water glasses, ask your host if you can help by filling the water glasses or in any other way.

We all want to feel more comfortable in any setting  whether it be casual or formal, simple or extravagant, and a little prior knowledge will help you dine with confidence.  Hope this basic table setting tutorial was helpful!  Bon Appétit!

How to Set a table like the magazines!


Guest Post By Rhonda John

Rhonda is the owner of My Symphony Seasonings, LLC located in Georgia. She has a passion for good food, health & entertaining which was the perfect combination for creating My Symphony Seasonings, a company that encourages you to cook and eat whole foods, close to nature by providing original recipe blends of organic herbs & spices, free of fillers and artificial preservatives to add flavor, richness and health benefits to your dishes!

Basic Table Setting Instructions
Article Name
Basic Table Setting Instructions
About to host or attend a dinner party! Check out these basic table setting instructions!
Publisher Name
Thrifty Little Mom