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Entertaining etiquette: The 411 on proper table setting

We’ve all experienced it at one time or another – that moment when you sit down for dinner and find a place setting in front of you that appears to include enough dishes for breakfast and lunch, too. Panic sets in as you try to inconspicuously look around to see what utensil everyone reaches for when the shellfish is brought out.

With the holiday season around the corner and all the parties that come with it, now is the perfect time to brush up on your entertaining etiquette. The following are guidelines for proper table settings:

Basic table setting

This setting is appropriate for most occasions — simply add to the basic pieces as needed.

The dinner plate is positioned in the center of the place setting with everything else placed around it. The flatware is arranged around the plate in the order in which it will be used:

  • To the left of the plate is the fork.
  • To the right of the plate are the knife and spoon. The knife is placed closest to the plate with the sharp edge towards it. To the right of the knife is the spoon.
  • A water glass goes above the knife.
  • Napkins can be placed under the forks or on the plate for an informal setting.

 Informal dinner or luncheon place setting

Simply start with a basic place setting and add to it with these items:

  • If serving a salad, the salad fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork. Eliminate the salad fork if no salad is served, or place it to the right of the dinner fork to use as a dessert fork, if appropriate. The dessert fork also can be brought to the table when dessert is served.
  • If serving soup, set the bowl on the plate and a soup spoon to the right of the beverage spoon.
  • Salad or bread and butter plates go to the left of the forks. Position butter plates above the forks with the butter spreader placed across the plate.
  • Cup and saucer go above the spoons with the handle toward the right. Wine or water glasses can be positioned to the left of the coffee cup.  

Formal place setting

As you begin to add more dishes to your places settings, the surface area can become an issue. One solution is to buy a dining table with removable leaves . This allows for “customizable” dining, meaning you can add the leaves to the table when you are hosting a larger gathering and remove them for everyday use.

Begin with the setting for an informal table setting and add to it using the following ideas:

  • White and red wine glasses (if necessary), along with the water glasses, are positioned to the left of the coffee cup.
  • The beverage, soup and/or dessert spoons are to the right of the knife or can be brought to the table when soup or dessert is served.

Morris Home has a wide variety of dining tables from which to choose. Just see any salesperson at any one of the several Morris Home locations in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus.

You can find more selection, more styles and more savings on the latest interior designs at Morris Home stores in Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Start shopping now at

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