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How To Set a Formal Dining Table

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Setting a formal dining table is a skill that most of us will never need, but if you find yourself hosting a fancy dinner party, it’s a skill you can’t live without. Your table sets the atmosphere of the event, and is an avenue for your creativity.

First, consider what you will be serving and how many courses there will be. For very formal meals, the typical courses consist of; Appetizer, Soup, Fish, Roast, Game, Salad, Dessert, Fruit/Cheese/Coffee and lastly, nuts/raisins.

Since each course is brought out on a plate already, there is no need to put all your plates plates on a formal dining table. There is, however, a large plate that remains on the table until the entree is consumed. This is called the charger and all of the served plates are placed on top. A small bread and butter plate is traditionally placed to the left of the charger. Cloth napkins are placed on top of the charger.

Lastly, utensils and glasses are laid out specifically on the table depending on the courses that will served. To the left of the charger is the fish fork, then salad fork and entree fork. To the right of the charger, there will be a dinner knife, fish knife then soup spoon. You work your way from the outside, in. Place your water glass directly above the knives, and wine glasses to the right of that.

For more information about table settings, check out this infographic from the Huffington Post. (

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