A Tale of Two Settings (Part 1)

This past weekend we had the pleasure of hosting a fabulous family dinner, and as I prepared for the magical evening, I reminisced about our first dinner party: thoughtfully planning the menu – Barefoot Contessa of course! – arranging lush bitter green and white hydrangeas for the centerpiece, and carefully setting the table. A novice to entertaining, I remember double and triple checking each place setting, making sure everything sat in the correct spot, as proper table setting protocol can be tricky! Years later, much the wiser, and having hosted many a dinner party, I’ve learned a great deal about setting the table and want to share my pearls of wisdom with you, my dear readers!

Whether you’re setting the table for a casual meal or more formal holiday gathering, here’s the first installment on my “Tale of Two Settings.” Keep an eye out for part two with table setting tricks of the trade. *Helpful hint: Print this table setting guide and keep it in your kitchen so you can “Bring the Buns” and refer to it whenever you need! 

Table Setting 1: Informal (casual dinner parties, weeknight meals etc.; the setting you will use most) *Keep in mind you can make this setting more basic if need be, by removing the salad plate and salad fork

Dinnerware: Juliska; Silverware: Williams-Sonoma; Glassware: Williams-Sonoma; Linens: Purchased in France 
1. Salad plate: Sits to the left of the dinner plate.
2. Salad fork: The outermost fork, sits to the left of the dinner fork. 
3. Dinner fork: The interior fork, sits to the left of the dinner plate.
4. Napkin: Sits atop or above the plate and can be folded or secured with a napkin ring. 
5. Dinner plate: Sits atop the place mat and is the cornerstone to the table setting. 
6. Place mat: Sits beneath the dinner plate.
7. Knife: Sits to the right of the dinner plate. 
8. Spoon: Sits outside of the knife, to the right of the dinner plate. If you’re not using the spoon until desert, either place it above the plate, or leave it out of the initial  setting, and bring it with the desert plate during the desert course. 
9. Wine glass: Sits to the right above the knife. 
10. Water glass: Sits to the right above the knife. 



Table Setting 2: Formal (used for formal gatherings, holidays, etc.; the setting you will use least)

Plates: Bernardaud Constance; Charger:Anna Weatherly; Silverware: My grandmother’s silver; Water glass: Williams-Sonoma; Wine Glass: William Yeoward; Champagne Glass: Tiffany and Co.; Linens: Purchased in France

1. Bread and butter plate: Sits to the left of the dinner plate, above the forks. 
2. Salad fork: The outermost fork, sits to the left of the dinner fork.
3. Dinner fork: The interior fork, sits to the left of the dinner plate.
4. Napkin: Sits atop or above the plate and can be folded or secured with a napkin ring.
5. Salad plate: Sits atop the dinner plate, and is removed after the salad course.
6. Dinner plate: Sits atop the charger and is the cornerstone to the table setting.
7. Charger: Sits between the dinner plate and place mat. (*This is a really just a service plate).
8. Place mat: Sits below the charger.
9. Dinner knife: The interior knife, sits to the right of the dinner plate. 
10. Salad knife: Sits to the right of the dinner knife.
11. Spoon: Sits outside of the knife, to the right of the dinner plate. If you’re not using the spoon until desert, either place it above the plate, or leave it out of the initial  setting, and bring it with the desert plate during the desert course. 
12. Champagne glass: Sits to the right above the knife. 
13. Wine glass: Sits to the right above the knife. 
14. Water glass: Sits to the right above the knife.
*If you’re having a fish course, sit a special fish fork farthest to the left of the dinner fork, as this is the first fork used during the meal; a fish knife would also sit to the right of the dinner knife.
Hope these table setting guides help, and keep an eye out for part two of this post!

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3 Comments

  1. GORGEOUS! Love your china. I almost got that pattern bc it is what Blair’s mother on Gossip Girl had! haha. Where are the white placemats from? I must have those! Must!

    1. Thank you!! Love that Blair’s mother had it! Charlotte York from SATC had this china too :). White place mats are from Provence – if you go, I’ll give you the name of the shop! They are handmade, and absolutely amazing! XOXO

  2. We have the same chargers (and sister Bernardaud pattered china, of course!)

    Your post is such a beautiful reminder that china – and/or a simple and thoughtful table setting — goes a very long way to make guests feel welcome and any meal taste that much better!