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Setting the table was always the kid’s chore at my house growing up. Perhaps it was my uncanny love of polishing silver that landed me this very important role during the holidays. While the place settings aren’t what your guests will remember the next day (pressure is on all you turkey roasters and pie bakers), a properly set table is one of the first things your guests will notice, and it will set the tone for a festive meal. Although table settings can vary slightly depending on what you’re serving and the age of your guests, here are some basic rules to follow when preparing for your guests this year.


Rule 1: Place your plates about 2 feet apart (center of plate to center of plate) to make sure your guests have enough elbow room. Make sure the placement of the plates is right before you start laying down the rest of the settings. I like to use metallic chargers to add some extra pizzazz to each place setting.

Rule 2: If you’re serving soup, place the soup bowls on top of each plate.

Rule 3: Place silverware in the order of its use, from the outside in. The utensils you’ll use for the main course should be closest to the plates.

Rule 4: Place forks to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons to the right.

Rule 5: Place the cutting edge of your knives toward the plate for safety and consistency.

Rule 6: Napkins should be to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight on the table.

Rule 7: Place a butter plate above the forks, to the left side of the plate with a butter knife on top.

Rule 8: Dessert silverware should be placed above the plate with the fork handle to the left, and the spoon handle (or knife, depending on what you’re serving) to the right.

Rule 9: Coffee cup and saucer should be on the far right above the knife and spoon(s).

Rule 10: Additional drink cups should follow counter-clockwise as such: White wine glass, red wine glass, water glass. The glasses should be in a line with the largest (water glass) behind the other glasses decreasing in size.

Rule 11: If you have festive napkin rings, tis the season to bring them out. You can also add place cards for a festive (and sometimes strategic) touch to your table.

What festive touches do you like to add to your holiday place settings?

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