Design Tips

A Complete Guide to the Perfect Place Setting

Some will say that etiquette is becoming a lost art, but we know that our readers in Grants Pass are keeping some customs alive and well! Whether it’s family dinners, holiday parties, or informal gatherings, our customers are definitely putting their dining tables to use! That’s why we wanted to help out by creating this guide to a basic place setting for the table. Now you can host confidently and keep this tradition going!


How many places to set?

First thing’s first: determine how many guests are coming and decide how many to fit around your table. To make it possible for your family and guests to move and eat comfortably, you should plan for two feet of table length per chair. For example, if your dining table is six feet long, you can fit three chairs along each side. If your table is eight feet long, you can fit four. Also, it’s best if you can leave 24-36 inches between the back of a chair and a wall. This will allow people to pull out their chair and maneuver around the table comfortably.

If your table is not long enough to accommodate all of your guests, don’t panic! Extra tables (like the kitchen table or a card table) are expected for large gatherings. You can even consider an informal option where you serve appetizers and finger foods. Guests can mingle and relax throughout the house. They will enjoy the chance to talk to different people throughout the event!

Quick note: if you know that you will be having a left-handed guest dining with you, try to arrange for them to sit on the left edge of the table. This will help them prevent elbows from knocking against their neighbor. You do not have to switch the table setting around — they will be able to do that for themselves.


The Basic Table Setting

Once you’ve arranged the dining table and furniture to accommodate everyone, it’s time to set the table. A simple place setting should look like this:

Feel free to drop the salad fork and tea spoon if you choose. We think it’s more important to save your flatware for dessert if you don’t have enough for each guest to have three forks and spoons!

This article from Emily Post’s website has a helpful tip for remembering the order of your cutlery: think of the word FORKS. F for fork, O like the shape of the plate, K for knife, and S for spoon! Sadly, R does not get it’s own piece of silverware, but we think this tool still works!

It’s also good to remember that the knife should be facing so that the sharp edge is pointing to the plate. Also, glasses belong on the right side of the setting so that’s it’s easy to reach with your right hand. Water glass slightly to the left, wine glass to the right.

Traditionally the napkin would sit in the middle of the plate, but it is also acceptable to place it to the left of the fork. If you are using place cards, they can also go in the center of the plate or directly above it.


The Formal Dining Place Setting

For a true formal dinner experience, this formal place setting is the way to go. This table setting includes a glass each for red and white wine as well as a coffee cup and saucer for tea or coffee. There is also an additional knife for salad as well as a dessert fork and spoon placed above the serving plate. In this setting, the napkin and place card should be put in the center of the plate since there is really no room for them anywhere else!


Finishing Touches

Once the table has been set, you can add some additional touches to help your friends and family feel welcome. Some fresh flowers or a bowl of seasonal fruit are simple ways to make the meal feel festive, or you can get creative with your centerpieces! You can also ask the kids to help you make place cards for a fun craft, or use an edible one for a fun way to start the dinner!


Whether you have a complete set of fine china or not, setting the table is a great way to show people that you are glad for their company. After all, at Gates Furniture in Grants Pass we believe the dining room is a place for good food, good stories, and good times!

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