The purpose of a place setting is to make the act of eating easier. A properly set table helps guests feel more at ease.
Table setting depends on:
- What food will be served
- How many persons will be seated
- What the table covering will be
Common sense tells us that a proper place setting provides the necessary utensils for eating a meal and that they will be placed in convenient positions for use. Table appointments need not be expensive, but all items should be clean and dishes and glassware should be free of cracks and chips.
A cover is another name for a place setting. It consists of a combination of flatware, dishes, glasses and linens that are appropriate for the foods served. A cover is approximately 20-24 inches long by 15 inches deep. It is the individual’s place at the table.
The flatware, napkin, and plate for each cover are placed as though they belong together, about 1 inch from the edge of the table. The plate forms the center, with the spoon and the knife on the right and the fork on the left. The cutting edge of the knife should face the plate. The bowl of the spoon and the tines of the fork are up.
Flatware is placed in the order of use. Pieces that are used first go on the outside and those that are used last are placed nearest the plate.
The napkin is usually placed at the left of the fork. However, when covers are close together, it can be placed in the center of the plate. Place the napkin so that the open corner is at either the lower right or lower left, whichever gives the better appearance. Traditional position is to have the open corner at the lower right. Napkins can also be rolled and placed in a napkin ring (position it as you would a folded napkin).
The glass for the water is placed at the tip of the knife; the glass for other drinks to the right of the water glass and a little nearer the edge of the table. Drinks always go to the right. The cup and saucer are placed to the right of the spoons. The handle of the cup points a little to the right of the edge of the table so that the guest can take hold of it without turning the cup.
Place a soup or cereal bowl on a plate. When a bread and butter plate is used, place it a little to the left of the tip of the fork. A single salad may be placed there or to the left of the fork. The additional plate should be directly opposite the drink glasses. Bowls and plates used for early courses in the meal may be placed in the center of the dinner plate.
Only the flatware that will be needed for the meal should be placed on the table. If the menu does not call for knives, forks can be placed at the right of the plate.
More courses call for more dishes in the cover. Consider all the foods to be served and what is needed based on the menu.