Proper Table Setting 101

By Natalie Gitt
Proper Table Setting 101

Owning proper table settings can feel a little excessive to some, and essential for others.

The wonderful thing about investing in complete sets is that they serve many purposes: you can use the pieces in a proper table setting separately, on a daily basis, and also use it all together when hosting dinner parties or holiday dinners.

However, knowing what separate pieces are in a table setting can be confusing since it can vary depending on set, situation, and so on.

At Fable, we offer premium quality tableware settings with pieces for four people. For those who love entertaining, or with bigger families, it’s easy to add a second (or third) set to round out your collection.

To help you set the perfect table, we are going to go over the basics of table settings and the different options based on individual needs.

Pieces in a Table Setting

The number and type of pieces depend on the kind of table setting you want.

These are all the pieces you could need in any of the table setting options.

  • Dinner Plate: The dinner plate is perhaps the most important piece in a set. It is the biggest plate, and you use it to serve the main meal.
  • Small Plate: You can use a small plate for dinner rolls, salad, or dessert.
  • Small Bowl: You can also use a small bowl for a salad, dessert, or soup.
  • Water Glass: A water glass is another essential in most table settings. You always want to include one in case you have guests that don't drink.
  • Wine Glass: You also need a wine glass when serving wine or other alcoholic beverages.
  • Mug: If you are going to serve tea or coffee during the desert course, you’ll need a mug.
  • Saucer: If you are going for a formal table setting, you will also need a saucer for the mug.
  • Flatware: Flatware can include a dinner fork, small fork, spoon, small spoon, butter knife, and knife.

You can use all these pieces in a single place setting, or just a few of them for a more casual meal.

Types of Table Settings

If you are about to throw a party or holiday dinner, consider the environment you want to help you decide what time of table setting you want.

Here are the different types of settings:

Casual Table Setting

The easiest table setting to achieve is a casual one with just a few basic pieces. These essential utensils are most commonly used when eating at home or in a casual restaurant.

This table setting includes a glass, dinner plate, fork, and knife. You can place all the flatware on the napkin on the left side of the dinner plate, or place the napkin and fork on the left and the knife on the right. In both of these situations, put the glass in the top right.

Semi-Formal Table Setting

This type of table setting is great to use when throwing a dinner party. It slightly elevates the everyday place setting, enhancing a meal without feeling too fancy.

It includes a fork, knife, spoon, butter knife, small plate, dinner plate, and glass. It may also include a small spoon and a small fork for dessert, but you can bring these utensils out after the main meal.

You place the butter knife on the small plate on the upper left side of the place setting. The fork goes to the left of the dinner plate, and the knife goes to the left along with the spoon. You place the glass above the knife.

Formal Table Setting

You can use a formal table setting for more elegant events and parties like weddings and special occasions. You also want to use a formal table setting when serving multiple courses.

It includes a fork, small fork, knife, spoon, small spoon, butter knife, small plate, dinner plate, small bowl, water glass, and wine glass.

Similar to the semi-formal setting, you place everything in the same place. However, you add the small fork to the left side of the main fork and the soup spoon to the knife's right.

The soup bowl can go in the center of the dinner plate, and you can add the dessert utensils above the dinner plate horizontally. Finally, you can place the wine glass to the right of the water glass.

Another option is to include a mug during the dessert course for an after-dinner tea or coffee.

At Fable, we offer tableware pieces beautifully designed for a basic to a semi-formal table setting. And, if you want to amp it up a notch, our Midnight Blue dinnerware with Matte Black cutlery can certainly achieve your formal table setting goals—you may just have to add a steak knife, some fine linens, and a few extra wine glasses to the set-up.

Helpful Tablescaping Tips

Feeling a little extra? If you are looking to create a beautiful tablescape, you can go beyond the place setting.

Here are a few tips to make any table look elegant.

Tip #1: Before you place the pieces of your table setting, you need to place your linens on the table. You can add texture to the design with various linens.

If you have simple table setting pieces, you can add color or design through a fun tablecloth or placemat. If you use unique linens, you can keep the napkins simple. You can also add a napkin ring for an easy way to make it look put together.

Tip #2: Use flowers to elevate any tablescape. There's nothing like fresh flowers as a centerpiece. One beautiful tactic is to place vases of flowers of varying heights down the center of the table—just make sure the flowers aren't blocking the faces of your guests.

You can use candles to fill in any gaps and complete the look.

Tip #3: Another easy tablescape design is to use seasonal fruits or vegetables. If it's Thanksgiving, you can use orange and white pumpkins that are medium to small in size. During the summer, you could do the same thing with watermelons.

Setting up for Success

There are many different table setting options. The one that you choose depends on the number of courses you are serving and how fancy you want it to be.

There are casual, semi-formal, and formal table settings. Each of these options requires a different number of pieces.

At Fable, we make it easy with tableware bundles, or you can also choose some of our pieces individually. Fable offers timeless designs that you can use for years to come during any event.


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