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Table Setting Guide from Basic Diner to Formal Dinner

By The Bee's Knees

Basic Setting

For Breakfast or Lunch: Start with a dinner plate, soup or cereal bowl (always optional), bread & butter plate (for toast, bagels, etc.), and a cup & saucer for coffee or tea. For the flatware, use a 3-piece place setting: dinner fork, dinner knife and teaspoon. The napkin should be placed on the left side of the fork. Complete each place setting with either a juice or beverage glass.

Basic Setting

The Dinner or Supper Setting: The dinnerware placement is similar to what's used for the breakfast and lunch setting. The salad plate can be brought to the table if needed. For flatware, use a 5-piece place setting; salad fork, dinner fork, dinner knife, soup spoon and teaspoon. The napkin should be placed on the left side of the forks. The table should be set with both a wine glass and a water or beverage glass. The cup & saucer can be brought out at the end of the meal if coffee or tea is served.

Basic Setting

Formal Dinner (which includes a soup course): Set the table with a bread & butter plate, a service base plate and dinner plate. If your pattern doesn't include a service plate, try being a little creative and use a metal tray or glass underliner. For flatware, use dinner fork, salad fork (served after the entree), dinner knife and soup spoon. The butter spreader may be placed on the butter plate. A teaspoon can be placed on the saucer with the coffee cup later. The dessert spoon and dessert fork may be placed above dinner plate. To add some elegance to your table setting, consider folding or fanning your napkins and place them in the center of the dinner plate or in one of the wine glasses. Add the glasses for red wine, white wine and water, as well as a fluted champagne if needed.

Tips On Setting The Table:

  • Allow at least 28 inches width for each place setting.
  • Keep your tableware approximately one inch from the edge of the table.
  • All knives should be placed with the cutting edge toward the plate.
  • Arrange all of the flatware in order it will be used, working from the outside toward the plate for each of the courses served.
  • If you serve a salad after the entrée, then place the salad fork next to plate.
  • Glass placement: from right to left, white wine, red wine, and beverage.
  • Champagne may be placed behind red and white.
  • A cocktail fork is always placed to the right of the soup spoon unless it's served with the seafood cocktail. offers collectors with resources to assist them in their collecting endeavors of restaurant and dinnerware china. Our shameless plea for your assistance to help us keep this site free basically reads like this: If you find our resources of value, then consider a donation of any amount to help us keep it available for your research and enjoyment . . .

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