How to set your table properly – Step-by-step guide

Posted on 4 min read

Most people prepare a Christmas dinner that involves a few more courses than a usual meal would have. More courses mean more cutlery and, usually, different drinks. With so many dishes on the table, it’s easy to lose track of where to put what. But don’t worry, this article knows what to do and guides you through the table clutter in an intelligible way.

The basics

Basically, there are three simple rules you can follow.

  1. Cutlery held with the right hand is to the right of the plate. Cutlery held with the left hand is to the left of the plate.
  2. Eat from the outside in; i.e. cutlery for the first course is furthest away from the plate.
  3. Dessert cutlery is placed above the plate.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Then let’s set your table step by step now!

Table setting made easy with these step-by-step instructions

First, think about the dishes you want to serve at your feast and have all the cutlery you need ready. The cutlery is used in order from the outside to the inside when eating, so we set the table in exactly the reverse order.

  1. First, place all the plates wherever you want your guests to sit.
    1. If you have more than one, place the main plate as the base and then the starter plate on top. Dessert bowls, etc., are only distributed when dessert is served.
    2. If you like, you can also use service plates. These are not used for eating, as they only mark the place – as their name suggests. They remain in place until the end of the meal.
  2. Next comes the dessert cutlery above the plates. The handle of the small spoon points to the right, the handle of the small fork to the left.
  3. Then comes the cutlery for the main course: place the fork on the left, the knife on the right of the plate.
  4. The cutlery for the starter follows next. As for the main course, place the fork on the left and the knife (e.g. a fish knife) on the right, but on the outside next to the cutlery that has already been laid.
  5. The soup spoon is to the right of the starter knife.
  6. If you have a bread plate, place it to the left of the plate and cutlery. You can place the bread knife directly on the bread plate.

Feel free to customise the cutlery for your feast, if necessary.


When it comes to glasses, you can also think about what kind of drinks you want to serve in advance. Basically, the glasses are placed to the right of the plate above the knives, in the order in which they are used. You normally do this as follows:

  • Always place a water glass on the far right.
  • A white wine glass follows to the left of the water glass.
  • Then a red wine glass follows to the left of the white wine glass.

That’s it!

By the way, you can also find wonderful wine glasses at Farmy. :wink:


What would a feast be without matching decorations! To make sure you have enough space, it’s best to arrange your decorations after you have placed all the cutlery, etc.

  • Drape the napkins over the top plate.
    • If the first course is already on the table, place them either next to the cutlery on the left or on the bread plate.
  • Candles, fir branches or a fir wreath are always wonderful for Christmas. But make sure that the decorations do not obstruct the view of your guests; they should still be able to look at each other. :wink:
  • Salt and pepper should also be placed on the table – but no toothpicks!


Now let’s delve a little deeper into the subject. You see, there are a few exceptions when it comes to setting a table!

  • Left-handed people are allowed to relocate their cutlery.
  • You have a small salad plate? Then place it to the left above the other plates.
  • If only one fork is needed for a course, place it to the right of the plate.
  • For spaghetti, a spoon is placed on the right instead of the knife. The fork is placed on the left of the plates as usual.
  • If you have a large number of courses, the cutlery can also be placed before each course.

Alright, now you’re ready for your Christmas dinner – and all the other big dinners you’re planning in the future. Needless to say, you can buy your fresh ingredients at Farmy Have fun!

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