Every time I have (well I should say had because clearly, if I’m writing a post about setting a table, I better know a thing or two about it) a dinner party, I always found myself second guessing the placement of each piece. And yet, I feel like setting a proper table is one of those things every hostess should know how to do with ease. So, for my benefit and yours, we’re breaking it down for you, SMP style. With a pretty watercolor that you can print out and frame for reference of course!

FORMAL | Download the Print Here

When planning your formal table, remember this simple rule that we probably all learned while watching Pretty Woman. You eat a meal starting with the utensils from the outside and working your way in. Ish. And I say ish because there are all sort of little “if this, then thats” but this is the gist of it…

Plates. Charger goes first, the largest of the bunch. Then the entree plate next, finished with the appetizer plate. Bread and butter plate is placed at the top left in the 10:00 position with the butter knife on top of it at a slight angle.

Stemware. Stemware is to the right, at a 1:00 placement. Either a red or white glass is placed (or both!) closest to the plate, with a champagne or water glass sits above the wine glass, just to the left.

Flatware. Flatware should be placed last. I have no idea why. But that’s what I hear. The dinner knife should be placed to the right of the dinner plate, followed by a soup spoon, then a fruit spoon if using. Now place the dinner fork to the left of the plate, followed by the salad fork, finishing up with a fish fork if you are using. A dessert fork and coffee spoon can be placed above the plate in the 12:00 spot.

Napkins. Technically, the napkin is supposed to go on the dinner plate but we’re okay with mixing it up and letting the nature of the tablescape encourage the placement of the napkin.

CASUAL | Download the Print Here

This type of tablesetting is perfect for family style dining. For the large and the small, the festive and the quiet, the dinner parties where conversation and free flowing wine take center stage. Could be pizza or takeout chinese or a good old fashioned spaghetti dinner.

Plates. An entree plate is generally enough for a casual setting. If you are serving a “first course” like soup or salad, you can always layer on an extra piece. Something fun and pretty.

Stemware. Stemware is to the right, at a 1:00 placement. A red, white or beer glass is placed first, with a water glass siting above and to the left.

Flatware. The dinner knife should be placed to the right of the dinner plate, followed by a dinner spoon on the right. Next, place the dinner fork to the left of the plate. If you are serving an appetizer, make sure that utensil is also accounted for.

Napkins. Have fun with the placement of your napkin. Graced over the dinner plate with a sprig of rosemary, tucked under the dinner plate and draped just over the edge of the table or placed simply under your fork set…options are endless.

And to leave you with a bit of inspiration, here are some of our all time favorite Placesetting ideas. Mostly taken from weddings and events but paired down to inspire a simple dinner party or a full on fete nonetheless. Click right here to see all of the pretty!