3 Ways to Set the Table

Setting the table for an upcoming gathering? Don’t stress—we’ve got three easy guidelines for a well-set table. Once you’ve got the basics down, you can tweak the setting based on your personal preferences. Trust us—you’ll want to print this out and tack it on the refrigerator door!

How you set the table sets the tone for the rest of the meal. If you’re entertaining guests for a proper sit down dinner, it might be nice to bring out your coordinating dinnerware, flatware, glassware, and stemware, for a polished look.

When it comes to flatware, work in the direction of the plate as the meal proceeds. And take note of this acronym: WRW. The water glass stands directly above the dinner knife, the red wine is at the center, and the white wine is to the right. Finally, the bread and butter plates are always above the plate and to the left. (So we can all stop stealing bread rolls from the person to our right!)

3 Ways to Set the Table: Classic - Discover, a blog by World Market


We all love a casual table setting, but casual doesn’t have to come at the cost of taste or order. Your napkins don’t have to be shaped like an envelope or lotus flower, but folding beautiful printed or solid napkins on the left side of the dinner plate can give a casual setting just the right amount of pop.

3 Ways to Set the Table: Casual - Discover, a blog by World Market


End the night on a high note! Table setting sticklers insist on clearing the table of all wineglasses, but this clearly doesn’t apply when you’re having dessert wine.

3 Ways to Set the Table: Dessert - Discover, a blog by World Market




  • Billie

    Your second example, a casual setting, has the salad plate on top of the dinner plate, which would not be correct. The salad, if one is being served with the meal, would be on the dinner plate itself, except if the food has a sauce or some kind of gravy, which could make for a messy presence on the plate itself. The salad would then be on its own plate to the left of the forks.

  • Steph

    Does anyone still use chargers?

    • Billie

      Yes, many people use service plates i.e. chargers. They remain under first course, such as soup, and are exchanged with the dinner plate when that is served.

  • Gail

    Glad to know this is still important to others, too. I was taught when growing up but many my age don’t seem to have a clue. Nothing more satisfying than a beautiful table!

  • Nancy

    As a young Southern Girl , I was taught that the napkin can either go in the plate with napkin ring or to left of setting with point facing outward beside salad fork!!

  • Nancy

    Growing up as a young Southern Lady I was taught that the napkin either goes in the plate with a napkin ring or pointed outward beside the forks!!

  • Barbara

    Very helpful – thanks! Somehow always want my napkin point to the outside but will change my ways !

    • Patti

      I was thinking I would like the setting better with the napkin point the other way! Do what feels right to you….it’s only a table setting!

  • Lyn

    Thanks for the quick reminders.

  • Sandy

    very helpful – thanks.

  • GeekyFutureTeacher

    Desert wine – is it really dry? 😉

    • Patti

      Nice catch?

    • Heather Cross


      Dessert Wine is typically sweet, with very rich aromas. World Market has tons of dessert wines to choose from. My favorite is Chocolate Shop, it’s a full-bodied red wine, meant to enhance chocolate dishes.

      • Allyson L

        Heather, Geeky Future Teacher was pointing out the spelling error. They spelled dessert wine as desert which is the hot, arrid, sandy area.
        You missed her point.

  • Cheryl

    Good to know thanks a lot.


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