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How to Set the Silverware on a Table

From a young age, most are taught the fundamentals of how to eat correctly at a kitchen table. The older one gets, you begin to realize that the days of using just one fork and spoon at dinner isn't acceptable anymore. It may seem confusing, but it's easy to learn basic silverware order.

How to Set the Silverware on a Table

Whether you're going to a charity event, meeting your significant other's parents for the first time or just going out to a simple dinner with friends, it's important to know how to set and use silverware on the table correctly. There are several ways to set silverware placement; all you need to know is how formal or informal your event or dinner will be and the correct "knife fork spoon order."

Basic Table Setting

When you're positioning a basic table setting, the Emily Post (a famous author known for writing about etiquette) Institute recommends that you think of the word "FORKS." If you break down the spelling of the word forks from left to right, that will show the order in which you should set the table. F for Fork, O for the Plate (the shape of the plate), K for Knives and S for Spoons. You can just forget about the letter R.

To remember the order of where your bread and butter and drinks should go, hold your hands in front of you. Touch the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your index finger to make a lowercase ‘b’ with your left hand and a lowercase ‘d’ with your right hand. This will show you that “bread and butter” will go to the left of the place setting and “drinks” will go on the right.

Important Things to Know

  • Knife blades should always face the plate.
  • Your napkin goes to the left of the fork or on the plate.
  • The bread and butter knife is optional.

Advanced Place Setting

If you're setting the table for an informal meal, there's going to be the soup course, salad or first course, an entree and dessert. The focus of the meal is going to be the dinner plate. The dinner plate should be placed in the middle with a napkin on top of the plate.

Next, place two forks to the left of the plate. The dinner fork (the larger of the two forks) will be used for the main course and the smaller fork will be used for the salad or appetizer. The forks should be arranged in an outside-in method. You always eat the appetizer or salad before the main course, so on the left of the plate, the smaller fork will be placed on the outside and the dinner fork is placed next to it on the inside.

The dinner knife should be placed to the right of the plate with the cutting edge facing towards the plate. At an informal dinner, you'll usually be using the same knife throughout all of the courses, but just make sure that you don't place the dirty knife on the table, placemat or table cloth. The spoons are going to go to the right of the knife. If soup is being served, the soup spoon will go to the far (outside) right of the dinner knife.

Extra Advanced Place Setting

Your teaspoon or dessert spoon will go to the left (inside) of the soup spoon next to the dinner knife. Drinking glasses are always going to be placed at the top right of the dinner plate, above the knives and spoons. The salad plate should be placed to the left of the forks.

If you're serving bread, the bread plate will go above the forks, and the butter knife will be placed diagonally across the edge of the plate with the handle on the right side and blade facing downwards.

Formal Table Setting Details

When you're setting the table for something special like a wedding, there are a couple of extra details that you should pay attention to.

  • Place clean, sparkling glasses on the table.
  • Always have clean, wrinkle-free linens on the table.
  • Layer different textures to create a beautiful table landscape.
  • Adding wild greenery will fill empty spaces.
  • Don't add unnecessary silverware to the table.
  • Keep floral arrangments in mind when trying to facilitate conversation.