How to Properly Set a Table

If you'd like to have friends over for dinner here's how to set the table. We're going to give you some basic guidelines that'll turn you into the perfect host.
How to Properly Set a Table

Last update: 11 August, 2020

Learning how to set a table isn’t hard. It requires some prior knowledge and, of course, good taste. You must give it the importance it deserves because sharing a meal is a special and intimate activity.

Good presentation creates a pleasant atmosphere that can be highlighted with the correct placement of table linen, tableware, glassware, silverware, and, of course, floral arrangements.

How we love those gatherings with friends and family or intimate dates with our partner at a beautiful table. If you don’t know where to start, follow some of our tips and we assure you you won’t fail.

First steps before you set a table

When you set the table, you must be organized, since the final result will depend on its good initial planning. Follow these tips:

  • Anchor the table perfectly to the floor so it doesn’t move and make the guests uncomfortable.
  • Place a liner under the tablecloth to muffle the noise of the movement of cups, silverware, plates…
  • Choose a tablecloth so that the dining room has a good optical effect. You can’t have a table with a creased tablecloth, or with the edges misplaced – they must be balanced.

How to set a table – the dishes

A proper table setting.

These are some recommended guidelines for setting your dinnerware:

  • The service plate – this is optional. If you decide to use it, you put it under the dinner plate. It should be in line with the rest of the dishes, and if it’s very large, it’ll be around an inch from the edge of the table. All plates on this plate must be at the same distance.
  • The dinner plate – always use this dish, whether there is a starter or soup. In both cases, the corresponding dish will be placed on the dinner plate. You should never put two dinner plates together.
  • The soup bowl – this always goes on the dinner plate. Some have two handles and are always placed on your plate without a napkin between them.
  • The bread plate – put this small flat plate on the upper left side parallel to the service plate and, in most cases, it should match.

How to set a table – glassware

An assortment of crystal glasses.

Water, white wine, and red wine can be all served in the same size glass, except for champagne, which uses a more elongated and elegant glass.

The glasses can form a straight or diagonal line alongside the plate. You should not put out more glasses than are going to be used. If the glassware bears any logos, you must place it facing the diner.


A table setting.

The cutlery will be placed in the order you’ll use it, from the outside in, and will be removed as the guest is finished with it. Aesthetically, it’s not good to change the order when a guest is left-handed.

Dessert cutlery will be put on the table when food is casual. Otherwise, put it on the table when you serve the dessert.

Keep in mind that a dessert knife should be put on the table when there is fruit or cheese. When this occurs, it’s placed after the teaspoon, on the far side, and with the handle on the right.


How to set a table with flowers.

Their use dates back to Ancient Egypt. The first napkins were simply large pieces of cloth similar to a modern towel. We didn’t see them in Europe until the 16th century.

Currently, the napkin is made of the same fabric as the tablecloth and is no longer decorated with ornate embroidery. Try not to touch it excessively while folding it.

Other accessories to set a table such as flower arrangements

A setting with floral arrangements.

If you choose to use flower arrangements at your table, we recommend choosing unscented natural flowers, as they could interfere with the aroma of the food and drink.

Flower arrangements shouldn’t block guests, so chose very small arrangements to allow the diners to see each other.

Chose the shape of the flower arrangements according to the type of table you have. For example, if you have a round table, the floral composition should be round.

Rectangular tables give more room when choosing floral decorations since they allow space for more than one centerpiece and more decorative elements, such as candle holders.

Finally, what do you think after reading this post? Are you excited to host a dinner? Tell us what your guests say about the presentation of your table. Now all you’ll need is a special menu to surprise them!