Table Setting Etiquette

Overhead view of simple, elegant table setting with magenta cloth napkin.

Setting a formal dinner table can take a regular Saturday night dinner party and turn it into something special. While a formal table setting may seem like a daunting task, the experts at Molly Maid have laid out the instructions on how to set a formal table and wow your dinner guests.

How to Set a Formal Table

A formal table should always include a high-quality tablecloth, so start by laying an ironed tablecloth on the table. This sets the stage for the rest of the table settings. While they are traditionally not included in a formal table setting, you can add a placemat at each setting if you would like to complete the look of your table.

Then, follow this step-by-step guide:

  1. Charger and dinner plate: A charger and/or dinner plate is set at each seat. This will be used as the base for each place setting.
  2. Soup bowl: In the center of the charger, the next piece to be added is the soup bowl.
  3. Bread plate: The bread plate is added to the top-left section by the charger. For perfect placement, think of the face of a clock, putting it between 10pm and 11pm.
  4. Napkin: On the left side of the charger goes the napkin, this is where you will place the forks for each place setting.
  5. Forks: The salad fork goes to the left (outside) of the napkin and the dinner fork goes to the right (inside) of the napkin.
  6. Knife & spoon: On the right side of the charger, place the knife next to the charger with the blade facing towards the charger. To the right of the knife, place the spoon.
  7. Butter knife: The butter knife will go above the bread plate, keeping the blade facing inwards, or towards the plate with the handle going to the right.
  8. Dessert spoon: The dessert spoon (also known as a teaspoon) for the setting will go directly above the charger, again with the handle pointing to the right.
  9. Glasses: On the right-hand side of the plate, above the knife, place the water glass. To the right of the water glass place the white wine glass and to the right of that, place the red wine glass.

Need some ideas for hosting a great holiday party? Check out these additional tips from Molly Maid to host your best holiday party yet!

Let Us Help You Clean!

Now that you have the perfect table setting for your formal dinner party what about the rest of the house? The home cleaning experts at Molly Maid are available for one-time cleaning services to get your home sparkling clean before or after your party. Contact your local Molly Maid online or call us today to request a free in-home estimate for professional house cleaning services.