Formal Place Setting for an Elegant Dinner
A formal place setting is the prelude a beautiful meal. Fine china shouldn’t spend its life in the cup boards.
The invitations, the flowers, the menu, and the place settings are all part of hosting a truly elegant dinner and an
event your guests won’t forget.
It’s true that most of us don’t often set a formal place setting in our homes. But, hosting a formal dinner party is
truly an unforgettable experience.
Perhaps you want
to celebrate New Years, a birthday, an anniversary or an engagement with timeless elegance. This place setting guide
will help you shine!
Of course, you don’t have to have a "reason" to host a dinner party. Celebrating the everyday joy of good friends and good food is reason enough!
Refer to the diagram for china and utensil placement. The details below will help you determine which
utensils and china you will need for your special dinner party.
Plan your dinner party with wonderful recipes found on this site. Include entertainment; it’s part of being a wonderful host or hostess.
And most importantly, enjoy your party!
- Your formal place setting should include a utensil for each
course. However, no more than 3 utensils of the same type (i.e. forks) should be on the table at one time.
The only exception is the oyster fork.
- Provide only the correct utensils needed for the courses you are serving. If you are omitting a
course, such as soup, do not provide that utensil.
- Utensils required for desserts are provided when the dessert is served.
- In the most formal settings, a butter plate and knife would not be part of the setting. However, we’ve included it in
picture because bread and butter is often served at home parties.
- A service plate or charger will hold each course until the main course is served. When the main course is served, the service plate is
removed and the dinner plate takes its place.
- For a proper place setting, all utensils are placed in the order they are used, starting
from the outside and working your way in. That is, the fish fork is on the outside
because it is used first. Of course, if you’re not serving fish then this fork is omitted.
- Forks are placed to the left of the dinner plate.
- The knives and spoon are to the right of the plate. The blade of a knife should face toward the service plate.
butter dish and spreader are placed just above the forks.
- Wine glasses and water
goblets are placed just above the right side of the plate.
- Napkins should be placed in the center of the service plate.
- A menu card can be place behind the service plate. For a home party, this is completely optional. On a personal note, I have found that
guests really find this to be a special touch. Occassionally, I open a cookbook to
find a menu card falling from it. It brings a smile as I’m reminded of
- Plates should be served to guests from the left and drinks served from the right.
- The plates and utensil from each course should be removed after the
completion of that course. The exceptions to this rule are the champagne and sherry glasses.
- The table should be set with symmetry in mind. The floral arrangement should be centered on the table and all service plates
equal distance apart.
Menus and place cards are an elegant touch and a momento of the evening.
Begin with a wonderful invitation to your dinner party and create anticipation for a special event!
Creative Ideas for Place Settings
Return from Formal Place Setting to Dinner Party Recipes.