Tips and Guides

Set A Traditional Table Like A Pro

Know where to place your utensils, plates, and glasses

Photography: Gio Oliva

With the table as your canvas, setting the table can be done in a few minutes if you know where each piece goes. However, given the number of spoons, forks, and knives you’re working with—it can be quite overwhelming. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Set the table swiftly with the photo and video below as your guide. With a few tips and tricks in your arsenal, you can make hosting parties and get-togethers a breeze.

Begin with the plates and table napkin.

The Service or Charger Plate is placed at the center of your table setting, meant to catch drips and spills during the earlier courses. It is removed during the main course. 

Once you have the service plate set, place the dinner and salad plates next. Last to be added is the table napkin, a rectangular cloth used for wiping the mouth and fingers while eating. It is often seen on the left side, above the service or bread plate.

RL Tip: For a tropical feel, choose a woven service plate that can add warmth to your setting. Make sure your table napkin matches the palette of your dinnerware, too.

Don’t be confused when placing the utensils. The dinner knife, used for eating the main course, is placed on the leftmost side. This is followed by the dinner and soup spoons.

Above it are the different kinds of glasses that you would need for a formal dinner.

Placed on the upper right hand of the service plate is the water glass or goblet, while below it is the wine glass for white wine. It is often more slender than the red wine glass. Beside the water glass is the wine glass for red wine, which has a rounder, wider bowl to increase the oxidation of red wine. A Champagne Flute, a slender-stemmed glass with a narrow bowl, is placed below the red wine glass.

Once you’re done with the right side of your setting, you may now proceed to the next steps.

Add the bread plate and butter knife on the top left side of your setting and use it to enjoy your roll and slice of butter. 

The dinner fork is placed closer to the service plate, while the salad fork, a smaller four-tined fork, is placed on the leftmost side.

Place the dessert spoon horizontally above the service plate. Finish off with a chic place or name card above it. Having place cards can make it easier for you to assign seats among guests.

Watch the video below to see how you can do the setting in 10 minutes or less:

All pieces featured in the video are from Crate & Barrel. For pieces you can add to your dining must-haves, visit Crate & Barrel, SM Makati, Courtyard Drive, San Lorenzo Village, Makati City. Visit Crate & Barrel's Facebook page for more updates.

Special thanks to Dagny Madamba. For more table setting ideas, grab a copy of Real Living's December 2016-January 2017 issue. You can also download a digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

More on

Table Setting 101: Arranging Cutlery

Table Setting 101: How To Lay A Buffet

RL Tips: Accessorizing your Dining Area


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