How to set the table with ease

retrochick.JPGIvy says:

I have struggled with the proper way to set the table my entire life. I finally learned what order to put the knife, fork, and spoon in when my dad said to set the table alphabetically. In other words- fork (plate), knife, spoon. Prior to that tip, I’d just slap down the silverware willy-nilly and make my mom nuts every time I did so.

So, to help you guys out, I went over to my mom’s house this afternoon (because I don’t think I have three forks that match each other, much less formal tableware- Fiestaware is as good as it gets in my house) and took pictures of the correct place settings.

Here is the correct place setting for a formal table:


(Yes, my photoshop skills are horrid.) Here it is without the handy annotations:


And, here’s an informal table setting:


And without words:


Now you can make your kids set the table and they can’t claim they don’t know how- just send them to Home-Ec 101!


  1. Happy Thanksgiving From The Home Ec 101 Crew! on November 22, 2007 at 11:31 am

    […] If you’re having trouble cooking your turkey, check this post out. If you’re needing gravy advice, check this post out. If your turkey hasn’t thawed and you need to do an emergency thaw, check here.  If you need to know how to set the table, look here. […]

  2. Margolis on November 19, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I know the rules and now I love breaking them. I really like putting all the silver on the napkin to the right. Or sometimes I lay the silver on the table and put the napkin on the plate with the salad bowl or bread plate on top (and maybe, a favor on top of that!). I also like, just like Ivy showed in the photo, using placemats on top of tablecloths. I was encouraged in this rule-breaking by seeing how tables in magazines are set – NOT that I find all decor in magazines something to emulate.

  3. Summer on November 19, 2007 at 10:57 am

    I used to always get confused on what piece went on which side of the plate until I learned this little tip: Utensils spelled with four letters (fork) go on the l-e-f-t. Utensils spelled with five letters (knife, spoon) go on the r-i-g-h-t.

    Silly, but it helps. hehe

  4. Ann at mommysecrets on November 19, 2007 at 9:56 am

    I love the alphabetical silverware tip!!!!

  5. Lesley on November 19, 2007 at 9:14 am

    Pictured, but not noted is that the blade of the knife should always face inward toward the diner.

  6. Amy on November 19, 2007 at 6:36 am

    I’ve always liked to put the dessert fork or spoon horizontally above the plate, with the tines or the bowl facing left (so you can grasp the handle from the right with ease, most people being right handed).