Table Setting Etiquette

Etiquette Proper Table Setting Continued

Table setting etiquette continued with learning the settings the more common three course dinner, the family dinner and an introduction to the basic types of wine its respective wine glasses.

After one realizes the common sense and logic was behind all this, it becomes less intimidating and easy.

When researching this topic I became inspired by the whole "Elegant home, elegant life" idea - i.e. to make more effort for beauty and proper table setting and cannot wait to apply it to the dinner table.

Meanwhile, learning about the correct wine glasses and slowly adding them to my collection is fun as well as shopping for beautiful table linen - elegant table runners, the placemats, napkins and napkin rings and other elegant table decorations. In fact, I couldn't wait to be the elegant host!

P.s. To learn table setting etiquette for formal dinners, please see the previous page of Etiquette Proper Table Setting



Table Setting Etiquette

Tips for Setting The Table

As at a formal and semi-formal dinner, everything on the table should be symmetrically and evenly spaced out.

Candles may be used just as they are on formal dinner tables, but usually as single candles rather than the candelabra. It might be too much. Be sure that your candles are not at the eye level otherwise the they might block the view and conversation.

Setting For Three Course Dinner

The less courses you serve, the less utensils you'll need. Only those absolutely necessary are placed in the setting.

etiquette proper table setting- informal
Table Setting Etiquette for a three course dinner

The typical place setting for a informal three course dinner includes: Reference: Emily Post on Etiquette

  1. Two forks, one for dinner placed at the far left and one for dessert or salad also on the left but nearest to the plate.

  2. Dinner plate, not on the table yet until guests sit down and dinner is served

  3. Salad plate, to the left of the forks

  4. Butter plate, placed above the forks

  5. Dinner knife, next to the plate on the right (for steak, chops, chicken or it may be a steak knife)

  6. Butter Knife, placed diagonally across the butter plate

  7. Two spoons, a dessert spoon positioned to the right of the knife, and if soup is to be served, a soup spoon to the right of the dessert spoon

  8. Water goblet, placed above the knife

  9. Wineglass, positioned slightly forward and to the right of the water goblet

  10. Napkin, may be placed either in the center of the place setting or if there is no salad plate, to the left of the forks

Service plates are not normally used at an informal dinner.

They act like 'saucers' for the food when each course is served.

Though service plates are sometimes used if in an appropriate size and style under a stemmed glass used for shrimp cocktail, fruit cup, etc. and under soup plates.

Like the formal dinner, the dinner plate should not be on the table when you sit down, but after you sit, when the food is then served to you in a warm plate.

If you plan to serve of tea with the meal, the cup and saucer are placed at the right of the setting, with the coffee spoon on the table placed on the saucer to the right.



Setting the Table For Family Dinners

Practicality is key.

Only minimum and essential utensils are used.

Since there is usually only one course and dessert, they may be only a fork, a knife and a spoon for the dessert. Perfectly fine for the family dinner, with the additional soup spoon if you are having soup first.

It is not necessary to have separate salad forks, the one at your table already may double up its job, although individual salad bowls should be set out.

Emily Post:

Ketchup, jellies, pickles etc may be served in their jars if no guests are present.

The jars should be on sauces, and each should have its own separate serving spoon or fork on the saucer.

Paper napkins are perfectly correct for family meals.

Elegant Napkins

She also suggests that if you prefer cloth napkins, we could use napkin rings.

Every one in the family will have their own napkin ring. When we are all done with the meal, we can fold it and place it back in our ring for the next meal.

Of course, we'll have to remember to wash the napkins every other second day.

A Visual Example of Setting The Table For the Family Dinner:

etiquette proper table setting- family style
Table Setting Etiquette in everyday family dinner style

Reference: Emily Post on Etiquette

  1. Dinner fork to the left of plate

  2. Dinner knife to the right, then soup spoon or the oyster fork or the dessert spoon on the outside

  3. Water or beverage glass to the diagonal right hand side of the top

  4. Butter plate, placed above the fork with butter knife laid on it diagonally at "2 o'clock" position

  5. Salad plate at the left of the fork

  6. Butter Knife, placed diagonally across the butter plate

  7. Napkin at the left or in the center of the setting

  8. Coffee mug or cup and saucer with a spoon at the right

Dinner plates are to be placed or served only after the family sits down.

The usual procedure is to say grace before you place the napkin on your lap.

If you are dining with a family, wait for the hostess to put the napkin on her lap before doing so yourself.



Table Setting Etiquette

Different Types of Wine Glasses And Setting

Often, meals and elegant entertaining comes with wine. This is an introduction to the basic wines and types of wine glasses.

Wine Glass For Sherry

etiquette proper table setting- family style
Etiquette proper table setting - The Sherry Glass. Photo credit: Sue Hickton

Sherry is a wine is served at room temperature and is poured into a small V-shaped glass.


etiquette proper table setting - family style
Table Setting Etiquette - other sherry glasses.


Wine Glass For White Wine

White wine is always served chilled and poured into round-bowled, stemmed glasses.

There is the German White Wine Glass, which has a taller stem.

The German White Wine Glass
Table Setting Etiquette - The German White Wine Glass. Photo credit: Parsleycat


And the Alsace White Wine Glass

The German White Wine Glass
The Alsace White Wine Glass

Wine Glass For Red Wine

Red wine which is served at room temperature, is poured into less rounded, more tulip-shaped glasses that are narrower at the rim than are white wine glasses.

There are Bordeaux glasses.

etiquette proper table setting - red wine glass, the Bordeaux
The Bordeaux Red Wine Glass. Photo credit: Etwood

And Burgundy Glasses

red wine glass, the Burgundy
The Burgundy Red Wine Glass. Photo credit: jenschapter3



For Champagne

Champagne is served very chilled and poured either into flat, wide-rimmed glasses or champagne flutes.

Coupe Glass

champagne coupe wine glass
The Champagne Coupe Wine Glass. Photo credit: www.barmans.co.uk/


Champagne Flute Glass

champagne flute glass
The Champagne Flute Wine Glass.

Wine glasses are placed on the table according to size so that the smaller ones are not hidden behind the larger ones.


correct placement of glasses
Table Setting Etiquette : Correct placement of glasses in a straight row

The water goblet is placed directly above the knives at the right of the plates.

The champagne glass is next to it at a slight distance to the right.

The claret or red wine glass or the white wine glass is positioned in front of and between the water goblet and champagne.

The sherry glass is placed either to the right or in front of the wine glass.

Rather than grouping the wine glasses, you may place them in a straight row slanting downward from the water goblet at the upper left to the sherry glass at the lower right.

That is all for "Table Setting Etiquette" page. All the best for your elegant dinners ahead! bookmark and come back to this page for quick refresher any time.

Thank you for reading the "Table Setting Etiquette !"

Go back to the the first page of Table Etiquette for (formal dinners.)

You might also be interested in:

  • Elegant Table Settings Gallery

  • Elegant Table Settings Ideas

  • Elegant Entertaining

  • Elegant Table Decorations

  • Social Ease

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    Tags: etiquette proper table setting, elegant table decorations, table setting etiquette, dinner table etiquette, basic table manners, proper table manners, elegant table settings, table manners for kids, table etiquette, table manners, good table manners

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