Tips and Guides

Table Setting 101: Arranging Cutlery

From the different types to how you should place them on your dining table, we've got you covered

Photography: Toto Labrador (Main Photo)

When it comes to setting the table, the smallest details somehow separate the newbie from the truly refined host. Sometimes, it all boils down to the cutlery and serving tools you'll be using. Aside from bringing out your beautiful China or your finest crystals for wine and water, it's also vital to see to it that you are using the correct spoons, forks, and knives, too. To help you out, we've put together a simple guide that you can follow: 

  • A spoon, fork, and knife comprise your basic table set. This is perfect for everyday use, but it is best to start with six to eight sets if you're entertaining guests. Expand it by including a soup spoon, butter knife, steak knife, dessert fork, and coffee spoon. 
  • With serving tools, begin with the basics: a spoon for rice, a ladle for soups, a fork and spoon for fish, and a cake knife for dessert. 
  • Serving spoons come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Deep-seated items are used exclusively for soups while slotted pieces are for dishes with gravy or sauce. 
  • Forks can have two, three or four tines—feel free to use whichever you like. Use serving forks for dishes that require poking such as chicken or slabs of steak. 
  • As a general rule, it is best to serve pasta and salads with tongs. The sharp edges of these impelements are not just for biting ice, they are also good for grabbing noodles and mixed greens. 

Illustration by John Patrick Meneses, based on an original photo by Ocs Alvarez/ACME Visual Productions. 

This snippet originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Real Living Magazine. Edits have been made by the editors. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details.

More on

5 Must-Do Christmas Table Setting Ideas

Table Setting Ideas

Table Setting Ideas (Part 2)

RL Entertaining: Four Simple and Easy Table Settings


Latest Stories

These Christmas Ornaments Will Make You Feel Like Dancing

Celebrate a yearly Christmas ballet tradition with The Nutcracker collection

15 Calming Photos of Modern Minimalist Homes

Because less is more

10 Life-Changing Cleaning Habits For Lazy People

We've got the strategies for keeping an impeccably clean house without losing your mind

Did You Know That Ellen Adarna Lives in a 1930s Apartment in Manila?

She has a fantastic view of the Manila Bay sunset, too

Neat Home Appliances You Need To Buy With Your 13th Month Bonus

It's okay to treat yourself with the best things money can buy—especially if it is for your humble abode

A Taguig Condo With Cool Storage Features And Vintage Accents

This 80sqm unit has everything that its owners need: light and airy spaces, an interesting mix of furniture, and nifty storage tricks

8 Celebrities Who Are Also Amazing Artists

From John Lloyd Cruz to Ian Veneracion, these famous faces put a new spin to being creative

Katrina Halili’s House in El Nido, Palawan

Found inside her own farm, the tranquil sanctuary features spacious rooms and an incomparable view of the lush outdoors

10 Designer-Approved Coffee Tables

Sisters Cynthia and Ivy Almario, first ladies of Philippine interior design, discuss their favorite coffee tables.

These High-End Villages Have Tripled Average Land Prices in the Last 6 Years

Do you live in one?

The Ultimate Quiapo Bargain Shopping Guide

Ready to go on a Quiapo adventure? From Ilalim ng Tulay to Plaza Miranda, you are bound to spot a budget home find. Read on for our list of stores and buyers tips.

The New Holiday Balikbayan Guest Solution: Airbnbs

They will surely feel right at home!
Load More Stories

Get inspiring design ideas and handy hints.
Subscribe to our newsletter now!