An Essential Guide to Table Setting and Silverware Placement

The art of entertaining guests is indeed lost over time, yet is highly acknowledged almost everywhere in the world. From this, comes a diverse set of skills, from table-setting and designing the aesthetics of your dining room to ensuring the comfort and luxury of guests.

Though these may seem like irrelevant details, they set a good tone for any get-together or gathering at your home.

Be it a casual gathering or an extravagant dinner party, table setting and silverware placement play a very crucial role. A well-set table changes the whole vibe of a gathering and brings about subtle elegance to the event.

In this article, we will talk about table-setting and silverware placement while understanding the use of the flatware for a formal or casual table setting.

Types of Flatware

Flatware across the world differs on the basis of the type of cuisines served. While most fundamental flatware is the same, there might be a slight difference in some of them.

Below is the commonly used and globally accepted flatware based on whether you are serving an appetizer, soup, salad, main course, entree, or dessert.

1. Salad Fork 

The salad fork is a five-inch, three-pronged fork, which is slightly smaller and blunter than the main course fork. This is placed at the farthest left of the plate, as salads are usually the first dishes to be served in many parts of the world.

2. Fish Fork

The fish fork or an appetizer fork is placed next to the salad fork. In the USA, UK, and other parts of Europe, a fish appetizer is served following a salad. This fork is half an inch larger than the salad fork and has four sharp prongs.

3. Dinner Fork

The dinner fork is placed closest to the plate. It is usually 7 inches and has four shark prongs. The dinner fork is used for any main course meal and is by far the largest fork on the table.

4. Dinner Knife 

The dinner knife is the first thing closest to the plate on the right side. It is slightly sharp-edged and is about 7 inches. The dinner knife is used for eating any main course dish.

5. Fish Knife

The fish knife is an optional choice. Often when there is a fish appetizer served, a fish-based main course dish would also follow. This is an oddly shaped knife, which helps with almost all seafood.

6. Salad Knife

The salad knife is a blunt five and a half inch knife that is kept at the right end of all the knives. This is always the first knife to be used.

7. Soup Spoon

Soup is commonly served as the first course and is eaten with a five-inch round spoon. This spoon sits next to the salad knife on the right side.

8. Oyster Fork

The oyster fork is a long three-pronged fork kept on the farthest right side of the soup spoon. It is best used for eating any kind of shellfish.

9. Butter Knife

The butter knife is the dullest knife on the table and is kept on the bread or butter plate, which is placed diagonally to the forks. 

10. Cake Fork 

The cake fork is a five inch blunt three-pronged fork that is kept on top of the plate. 

11. Dessert Spoon 

The dessert spoon is kept on top of the cake fork. It is a five-inch, slightly rectangular spoon that is convenient for eating custard and ice-cream. 

Informal Table Setting 

The informal table setting is very basic. It is the most commonly used setting for any gathering. The number of flatware you place for the diner depends on the number of courses you wish to serve. 

For starters, the informal table setting should contain at least one dinner fork, one dinner knife, a soup spoon, a butter knife, and a dessert spoon. In an informal setting, you are not obligated to place the dessert flatware along with other utensils at the same time; you can bring them along with the dessert. 

For an informal silverware placement, place a dinner fork next to the plate on the left-hand side of the plate, and a napkin next to the fork. On the right-hand side, first place a dinner knife, followed by a soup spoon. 

The butter knife can be placed on the butter plate, with its handle pointing toward the diner. The dessert spoon can go on the top, with its handle perpendicular to the dinner fork. And If you plan on serving wine, you can place the glass next to the water glass. 

Formal Table Setting 

While there is a universal method of Silverware placement for a formal setting, you can make your own variations of it, based on the multi-course meal you plan to serve. 

Place a dinner plate at the setting. The knives should be pointing upward with the blades facing towards the plate.

Start by laying a salad fork farthest from the plate. Next place a fish fork, if you plan on serving a fish course, followed by the dinner fork, which is closest to the plate. 

Then place the knives and spoons on the right. Start with a dinner knife which will lay the closest to the plate, on the right-hand side. Then, set a fish knife next to the dinner knife. 

Lastly, put the soup spoon after the fish knife, which would be the farthest away from the plate. This makes it convenient for the diner to use the spoon since soup is usually served after the salad. 

Place a dessert fork and spoon above the plate, with the fork pointing towards the right. Then set a spoon above the fork, pointing towards the left. 

If you are planning on serving any bread, put a bread plate diagonal to the forks. Do not forget to place a butter knife whose handle is pointing towards the diner’s right hand. 

Lastly, place a water glass at the top right of the plate, above the table knives. If you are planning on serving wine, you can put the wine glass next to the water glass on the right-hand side. 

To Sum It Up 

A well-set table can mean a lot to your guests. The fact that you took out the time to set the table for them, makes it clear that you took the effort of making their meals comfortable. 

Silverware placement also makes the experience feel more elegant and luscious. It sets a whole new vibe for your event.