Teach Me To (series)

Teach Me To Set A Table Properly

set a table

If you’re hosting a holiday or otherwise special dinner, you’ll want to know how to set a table properly. After all, you want your mother-in-law to rest assured her son married a woman familiar with basic social graces. And laying the table willy-nilly is the first sign of a family’s descent into savagery. (That and putting toilet paper on the roll backward.)Laying the table willy-nilly is the first sign of a family's descent into savagery. #tablesetting Click To Tweet

So here are placement diagrams for your reference. Feel free to download them by right-clicking on the pictures.

Set A Table For An Informal Dinner 

This is likely to be the place setting diagram you’ll reference for your own use most often since we’re largely an informal society. If you’re training children to set the table, I suggest printing a copy and taping it on the inside of a kitchen cabinet so they can refer to it if they forget the proper placement.

set a table

Set A Table For A Formal Dinner

Even though you may never have occasion to set your table utilizing all the pieces shown in this diagram, it’s still quite helpful. First, you may be invited to a formal dinner hosted at an elegant restaurant where it helps to know one of these forks is for fish. Second, you may supplement your own informal place settings with some of these pieces – like the salad plate, soup bowl, and various glasses and dessert utensils. This tells you where they go. I suggest placing a printed copy of this inside your china cabinet for handy reference.

set a table


Remember, it doesn’t matter where silverware or glasses end up during the course of a meal. It only matters that your guest’s first view of your table is beautiful and orderly. And it will be – now that you know how.

set a table


  • Neely

    OK I have for sure been doing this wrong. This is super helpful!

  • Azanique

    This is so helpful! Especially for all the dinner parties that happened during spring and summer 🙂

    – xo, Azanique | LotsofSass.com

  • Megan Murray

    best tips every! I will be using this for mt next dinner party
    oh so Megan Murray x

  • Very great tips. I still need help figuring this out!!

  • I’m ashamed to admit that I wouldn’t know how to do this properly without cheating!

  • these are great tips! I never know what I am doing but I always want my table to look right!
    Thanks for sharing XO- tutusandheels