Miss Manners In Table Settings

By Danielle Brooks

So, you are hosting your first formal or semi-formal dinner party complete with the table settings. In the days of yore, your parties may have just been casual in nature with the food and the eating utensils laid out in a buffet style while the guests find their own places on whatever table takes their fancy after filling their plates. Well, now the rules of the ballgame are different.

Two Rules

Well, don’t despair about finding your inner Miss Manners in time for the dinner party. There are only two basic rules to remember when setting the table while the other rules are often added just because you want to lend a more sophisticated feel to the party.

— The glassware for the beverages is placed on the right while the dinnerware for the solid and the semi-solids are placed on the right. This is true regardless if the guests are right or left-handed mainly because it is more convenient in this way.


— Use the flatware like the Oneida Easton pieces from the outside in. Thus, your outermost fork or spoon must be used first in such a manner that only one piece of flatware must be used for each course.

The second rule has an important bearing on your duties as a host. You should only place the right number of dinnerware, flatware and glassware on the table commensurate to the number of dishes that will be served. In this way, your guests will not have one too many or one too few spoon, fork or plate on their places and, thus, cause embarrassment for either of you.

For example, if you will not be serving steak, then don’t place the Oneida Juilliard steak knife on the table. Similarly, if you are not serving champagne, then don’t bring out the champagne flute. In short, don’t set expectations in the kinds of food that will be served if you cannot live up to it.

Two Types

Now, in dinner parties, you have two choices in the type of dinnerware laid out on the table depending on the level of formality – or the lack thereof. Keep in mind that the dinnerware is an important component of setting the mood for the meals, thus, it is essential to choose well and choose wisely.

For formal dinners, all of the dinnerware pieces must be placed about an inch from the table’s edge and all pieces must be spaced apart equally. You start setting the table with the charger, bread and butter plate and soup bowls. Flatware should be laid out from the outside in while the glassware can reach up to 5 pieces.

In a casual dinner, you will still apply the above mentioned two basic rules with a twist. For example, you can choose to lay out all of the dinnerware and the charger may not be used.

In conclusion, the rules of table setting are relatively easy to remember with practice. The choice of dinnerware, flatware and glassware is yours to make, which means that you can be as eclectic or as orthodox with the size, shape and patterns of the tableware. It is your dinner party, after all.

About the Author: Danielle Brooks is a freelance writer who loves to entertain. Some of her favorites for entertaining are the

Oneida Easton


Oneida Juilliard

flatware sets



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