Hosting a dinner party is a fun way to bring friends and family together over a delicious meal, and we’ve made a pretty strong case for why all winos should host dinner parties. But a truly amazing dinner party takes a little bit of planning, including knowledge of the rules of etiquette. Aside from the menu, the table setting is the most important aspect of a dinner party, so you’ll want to be sure you have it right. Have you ever found yourself missing flatware, or napkins, in the middle of a meal? Me too! Keep reading to find out how to set a perfect table for your dinner party.

Types of Dinner Parties

There are a variety of different types of dinner parties you can host, from formal gatherings to casual get-togethers. Wine folks are frequently made fun of for being snobby… well, there is a time and a place! When your friend pops over to help you drink one of these wine pairings for your first year as a parent, he knows he needs to push the laundry to the other side of the couch and find a spot on the coffee table that won’t lead to too much cheeto cheese on his glass. However, that season will pass, and you may also find yourself in a truly Martha Stewart mood, wanting to pull out all of the stops.

The type of dinner party you plan to host will help guide you in your table setting. More formal parties will require that you keep in mind more rules of etiquette than a casual gathering. The type of meal you plan to serve will also help dictate how you set the table – lunch table settings are slightly different than dinner settings, for example. Here are the three most common types of dinner party table settings:

Casual Table Setting

For a casual meal with friends, the rules are a bit more relaxed. For a casual table setting, you’ll need a few basic pieces of tableware and will follow a very simple table setting. Here’s what you’ll need for a casual table setting:

  • Dinner plate
  • Fork
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Water glass
  • Napkin

To set a casual table setting, place the plate in the center of the setting. To the left of the plate, place the fork. On the right of the plate, lay the knife and spoon. The knife will rest to the right of the plate with the sharp edge facing the plate and the spoon will set to the right of the knife. Place the glass directly above the knife. Finally, the napkin can go either on top of the plate or underneath the fork.

Formal Lunch (or Informal Dinner) Table Setting

A formal lunch table setting is the next step above a casual setting. This type of table setting will start with a basic setting and add on a few additional elements, like a coffee cup and bread dish. In addition to using this more advanced table setting for a formal lunch, you can also set a table in this fashion for an informal dinner. Here’s what you’ll need for a formal lunch table setting:

  • Dinner plate
  • Salad fork (if salad will be served)
  • Dinner fork
  • Salad or bread plate
  • Butter spreader
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Soup bowl (if soup will be served)
  • Water glass
  • Coffee cup and saucer
  • Napkin

To set a formal lunch table setting, start with a casual setting – a dinner plate in the center with a fork on the left and knife and spoon on the right. Then, work your way out adding additional elements as you need them.

If you plan on serving a salad, place the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. This extra fork can also be used as a dessert fork if you do not plan to serve a salad. Otherwise, the dessert forks can be brought out when the dessert is served. Additionally, if you plan to serve soup, the bowl should be placed on the plate and a soup spoon will be added to the right of the beverage spoon.

Next, add the salad or bread and butter plate to the setting. The plate will rest above the fork on the left side of the dinner plate. If bread and butter will be served, add a butter spreader on top of the small plate. Finally, add the coffee cup and saucer to the setting by placing it above the spoons with the handle facing to the right. You can also add a wine glass to the setting by putting it to the left of the coffee cup.

Formal Table Setting

The most rigid of the dinner table settings, the formal table setting adds more dinnerware and a little drama to the formal lunch setting. Here’s what you’ll need set a perfect table for a formal dinner:

  • Charger plate
  • Dinner plate
  • Salad plate
  • Salad fork
  • Dinner fork
  • Bread plate
  • Butter spreader
  • Knife
  • Spoon
  • Soup spoon
  • Dessert spoon
  • Soup bowl (if soup is on the menu)
  • Water glass
  • Coffee cup and saucer
  • White wine glass
  • Red wine glass
  • Napkin

Start with the formal luncheon table setting, then add the additional elements. Start by placing a charger plate under the dinner plate for a little added drama. Then, add the salad plate under the soup bowl. Use the small plate above the forks solely as a bread and butter plate for a formal dinner party. A formal place setting also includes a dessert spoon, which is placed to the right of the dinner and soup spoons. This spoon can also be brought to your guests when dessert is served.

The final addition to your formal dinner setting is the wine glasses. If you plan on serving a selection of both red and white wines, you’ll need a glass for both. Those glasses will be placed along with the water glass, to the left of the coffee cup.

That’s it! Now, go practice until you can set a perfect table. Then plan the menu and invite some frieds.

How to set a perfect table for a dinner party. Etiquette and place setting rules for flatware when you want to set a table properly for your guests. How to host a dinner party with a well-set table. #etiquette #placesettings #tablescapes How to set a perfect table for a dinner party. Etiquette and place setting rules for flatware when you want to set a table properly for your guests. How to host a dinner party with a well-set table. #etiquette #placesettings #tablescapes

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