How to Set the Perfect Dinner Party Table

When it comes to planning the perfect dinner party, the devil is always in the details. Planning the fun stuff such as centerpieces, menu items and clever place cards can often take center stage … and we don’t blame you. It is the fun part, after all. But details like table settings are important too and shouldn’t be put off until the last minute. There are many different ways to set a table. With this in mind, we’re helping save you time and stress by laying out our favorite way to set a table for both an informal and a formal dinner party. You can adapt this for any theme or time of year to create a lively soiree that’s uniquely your own.


A few close family members or a handful of friends who know you well and are ready to enjoy a laid-back get together.

Centerpiece, wine glass, water glass, salad fork, dinner fork, knife, soup spoon, teaspoon, dinner plate, napkin, placemat.


  1. Choose a focal point like a stunning centerpiece or a statement napkin or placemat. This will help ground the settings and provide an extra pop of color and texture.
  2. Provide two glasses, one for water and one for the other beverage you plan on serving, like wine or punch. This ensures guests will be able to cleanse their palettes between courses and stay hydrated.
  3. Forks go on the left, with the dinner fork at the innermost point next to the plate, followed by the salad fork. On the right, the knife goes at the innermost point (blade facing the plate), followed by the teaspoon and then the soup spoon.


Extended family and friends you may not see regularly gather for a formal celebration where you want to pull out all of the stops – like Christmas, Thanksgiving, or a big milestone.

Centerpiece, place card, white wine glass, red wine glass, water glass, bread plate, bread knife, coffee cup, saucer, salad fork, dinner fork, knife, soup spoon, teaspoon, dessert fork, dessert spoon, charger, dinner plate, salad plate, napkin, placemat.


  1. Place cards not only eliminate any confusion when guests take their seats, they also offer an opportunity to create a clever keepsake for guests to take home at the end of the night.
  2. Provide multiple wine glasses, especially if you plan to offer several varieties of wine throughout the course of the meal. Many people like to start off with a white during the salad course, and move on to red for the main. Having two glasses keeps them from mixing.
  3. Offering a bread plate and a coffee cup helps elevate your dinner party to restaurant quality, allowing another opportunity for you to wow your guests with a fresh-baked bread at the beginning of the meal and a coffee course during dessert.
  4. Stacking your dinner and salad plate on top of a charger adds to the formality and visual interest of the table. Keep things clean and modern with an all-white setting or mix, match and play with patterns to create an unexpected look.