Basic table setting rules: selection and arrangement of dishes, cutlery, napkins

Compliance with the etiquette of table setting primarily speaks of the good attitude of the owner of the house to the guests. Recently, however, it is possible to meet a properly laid table only at various kinds of official events, banquets or buffets. You need to please your loved ones on ordinary days, creating a festive atmosphere with the help of colorful design. In this article we will tell you about the basic rules for table setting, about various directions and interesting ways of decorating.

Table etiquette or how to properly serve the table

If you are invited to a dinner party for the first time, then the number of cutlery and their order can be confusing. A well-organized gala dinner means proper table setting, table etiquette and decoration appropriate to the event. To learn how to properly use your cutlery, you need to understand a few points.

Rule # 1: forks, spoons, knives are put in the order of serving dishes (appetizers, soup, meat or fish, fruits, dessert). Each item on the table fulfills its role.


General table setting rules assume the following tableware arrangement schemes:

  • a snack plate is placed in front of the guest;
  • on the left is a cake plate or a paper napkin with additional appliances;
  • knives and spoons are on the right, and forks on the left;
  • wine glasses and glasses, as well as dessert utensils are placed in front of the main plate;
  • There is a napkin on the snack plate.

Rule # 2: use serving items as intended. The devices on the right side are taken and held while eating in the right hand, and those on the left with the left hand.

The question of how to use a knife deserves special attention.It is necessary that the end of the handle rests on the palm of the right hand, the thumb and middle fingers grasp the base of the knife from the side, and the index finger rests on the surface of the handle. So it will be more convenient for you to cut off the desired piece of meat or fish, and you will not have to blush in front of strangers.

Rule number 3: table design involves the use of all kinds of decorative elements: a white ironed tablecloth, lace napkins, colorful tracks and fragrant flowers.

To better understand the principle of table etiquette, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with the video material below. You will learn a lot of useful things and forget about the problem of improper use of cutlery forever.

On the video:serving and serving rules.

Scheme and sequence

There is no single correct option for table setting, because each country has different traditions regarding this issue. Much also depends on the menu, the number of dishes and their focus.Do not forget that the design of the kitchen or dining room can vary greatly depending on the time of day.

It is customary to lay the table in the following order: tablecloth, dishes and cutlery, wine glasses, glasses, glasses, napkins, decor.

Let's start with the tablecloth - it should be perfectly ironed and match the nature of the event.So, for a dinner party, models of neutral shades are suitable, and for a Sunday tomorrow in the family circle there is nothing better than a bright tablecloth and napkins with unusual patterns. The average length of this product is 25 cm. This indicator is far from accidental - an unnecessarily large descent of the tablecloth will look sloppy, and a small one looks awkward.

The smoothed cloth should cover the entire surface, and the corners should drop against the table legs, evenly covering them.

Choose a suitable tablecloth

The following is the arrangement of dishes and cutlery. In a number of European countries, and in Russia too, it is customary to first display porcelain and glass plates, saucers, wine glasses and glasses.When setting the table, it is important to take into account that all items will change, depending on the serving of the dishes. That is why it is better to place dishes and cutlery at a distance of 1 cm from each other, starting at the edge of the table.

Selecting and placing the tablecloth and path

Each hostess has an elegant white tablecloth in the closet. However, you should not be limited to only one model, now the stores offer a wide selection of products of various sizes, colors and styles.For rectangular tables, tablecloths 50 cm longer than the table top are suitable, and for round or oval ones, 100 cm wider than the diameter of the table.

Designers insist that the color of the tablecloth matches the shade of the curtains and the overall style of the premises.The main thing is to iron the fabric well, and the choice of colors depends only on the preferences of the residents of the house. You can choose a traditional beige or white bed, or choose a more custom option.

Another new way to decorate the table is to use plain tracks and underpads. You can see examples of such decoration in the photo below.

Position of plates

Deep, wooden or salad plates are first placed on napkins or special paths.Not far from them are tea utensils and dishes for desserts. The distance from the edge of the table to the dishes should be about 1.5-2 cm. It is also recommended to put a paper napkin under the snack plate so that it does not slip on the tablecloth.

Arrangement of cutlery

Next in order is the layout of cutlery. According to the rules of etiquette, they are laid out according to the number of changes in dishes, placed with the back side to the table.On the right are spoons and knives, on the left are forks. In most cases, there is one set of instruments for each person.

If you want to impress your guests, you can additionally serve the table with bright glasses, glasses, special forks, tea and dessert spoons.

Serving glasses, glasses, wine glasses

Behind the plates are glasses - they are arranged from largest to smallest... The choice of items depends on the preferences of the guests regarding certain drinks.These can be glasses for water, glasses for white or red wine, glasses for juice, as well as glasses for spirits.

Glasses are located on the right, glasses on the left, forming a straight line. Arrangement of dishes and appliances in two rows is allowed with a large number of participants in the event.

Before serving glasses on the table, make sure that the dishes are clean. All items must be thoroughly washed, wiped with a towel and made sure that there are no chips or other defects.

Choosing and serving napkins

Classic table setting involves the use of neutral-colored napkins. As with the placement of cutlery, there are no clear rules for the placement of napkins. They can be folded nicely next to a snack plate (designed for breads, tartlets and salads) or put in a water glass and decorated with decorative rings and ribbons.

If you are setting the table for dinner, simply place napkins on the side of each plate, as shown below.

In the video:how to properly set the table.

Table decor (finishing)

An excellent option for table decor is a tablecloth made of synthetic material. This solution is suitable both for home gatherings and for a festive dinner, the main thing is to choose the right color. It is easy to take care of such a tablecloth - it does not wrinkle, does not wear out and retains its original appearance for a long time.Cloth napkins, bed covers, lace tracks are used as an addition.

To make the living room interior elegant, cozy and unforgettable, place on the table a bouquet of fresh flowers, a fruit bowl, an antique sugar bowl and crystal glasses.

Cutlery in a modern style is distinguished by a variety of shapes, shades and unique functional features.

Serving types

Table decoration may vary, depending on the time of day and the nature of the gala dinner. In this case, banquet, buffet, tea and coffee serving are distinguished. However, there are some differences. Breakfast assumes a minimum number of dishes for serving the table, and during dinner there is always a large number of dishes and cutlery on the table.

For breakfast (+ Sunday breakfast)

This is the simplest type of table setting. Snack plates are placed first, then cups, glasses and small saucers.A teaspoon is placed on top of the latter. If your family members use egg trays or butter bowls, be sure to include a teaspoon. A deep bowl is placed on the snack plate (for porridge or cereals).

Sunday breakfast cannot be imagined without drinking tea, which is why there is a coffee pot or a teapot in the center.

You can decorate the table with flowers, unusual napkins and various decorative elements. Family Sunday breakfasts are becoming a good tradition in many homes, they bring loved ones closer to each other.The key to setting the table for breakfast is creating a good mood and comfort during the meal.


There are several types of table setting for dinner. It all depends on the number of dishes and their nature.Cover the table with a white tablecloth, place one flat plate and one deep plate (for soup or salad). If there are dishes on the menu that cannot be eaten from the common dishes, add a snack plate. Arrange the cutlery according to the rules of etiquette. Beautifully folded napkins are perfect for decorating the table.

A distinctive feature of table setting for dinner is the installation of a salt shaker and other items for spices and seasonings.

Full evening

You can set the table not only for family members, relatives or friends, but also for unfamiliar guests. Pre-serving in accordance with all the canons is the key to the success of any dinner party, because everyone should be comfortable and comfortable. The decor of the table creates a special atmosphere that is conducive to sincere conversations, wonderful memories and plans for the future.

The following rules of table etiquette must be observed for the holiday to be successful:

  • Perfectly clean ironed tablecloth. It is desirable that the product is made of dense fabric (this will avoid the clinking of dishes when dropped and protect the surface from spilled liquid).
  • To decorate a festive table, it is not acceptable to use dishes and utensils of different colors. Give preference to monochromatic options from one set. All decor elements (vases, stands, napkin rings) should shine with cleanliness, the same applies to dishes.
  • It is forbidden to serve sealed bottles of champagne or wine on the table. All alcoholic drinks are served in open bottles and then poured into glasses. Next to the glasses, glasses are placed on one cloth napkin.


there are some features of this type of design.So, shallow plates are placed at a distance of 1 cm from each other, starting from the center, first on one side, then on the other. They should be clearly opposite one another. Snacks and pie saucers are placed on these plates. The next step is to position the cutlery at a distance of 0.5 cm from the shallow plate.

A distinctive feature of the banquet is the decoration of the table with special name cards, where the personal information of the event participant is indicated. They are located to the left of the wine glasses.


Buffet table setting is becoming more and more popular, it is used at private parties, official events and during informal communication between business partners.There are two options: one-sided and two-sided serving. Each has its own distinctive features. In the first case, the table is decorated only on one side and is placed near the wall. The second is usually used at corporate parties, weddings and anniversaries.

Serving is done on both sides in accordance with a special scheme. The main thing is that you could take the dish without making any special efforts (therefore the table occupies the entire central part of the room).

When serving a buffet, it is especially important to keep the same spacing between cutlery and other items. The table begins with the arrangement of glass and crystal dishes, after which vases with flowers and bottles of alcoholic beverages are placed in the center of the table.

Labels on bottles should be facing one way. In certain situations (when there are many guests), a separate table is allocated for drinks and snacks.


The nature and basic provisions of coffee etiquette directly depend on the selected drinks. It can be Turkish coffee, classic coffee, Italian espresso.The stronger drinks cooked on the stove are served in porcelain cups from the same set. A geyser coffee maker can help in creating the perfect coffee drink - this is an old secret of the peoples of the East.

When pouring coffee, make sure the cups are only two thirds full (then guests can add some milk or cream).

Coffee table setting includes three elements - a saucer, a cup and a teaspoon.Additional items include a dessert plate that can hold cakes, and cutlery for fruit or sweets. The arrangement of dishes should start with desserts. When all the guests are gathered, you can start preparing drinks.

Tea room

If each guest is assigned a certain place at the table, then serving is based on the principle when in front of each participant of the tea a cup and saucer with the necessary list of devices and a small plate for desserts are placed.The main dish is located in the center of the table. This can be a bowl of cakes, a cake, an apple pie, a bowl of fruit.

Particular attention is paid to the decor, all elements must be evenly placed around the perimeter of the table.It is customary to leave the teapot and the boiling water kettle on the edge. In the case of a samovar, it is placed clearly in the center.

When inviting friends for tea, make sure you have enough tea sets (it is better if there will be 1-2 more than the intended guests).

In conclusion, it should be added that table setting is primarily an individual design of the surrounding space. Go beyond a single arrangement of objects, show your imagination and decorate your table with incredible decor and fresh flowers. An informal creative approach and adherence to the classic rules of table etiquette are the key to a successful festive dinner, Sunday morning and friendly get-togethers with friends over a cup of aromatic coffee.

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