We're supposed to be teeming with gratitude at Thanksgiving dinner, but when you're the host — especially when you're a first-time host — you feel more full of nerves; not only do you want every bite of your holiday feast to taste delicious, but you want the table to look perfect too.
In the holiday's spirit of gratitude, we've put together this gift for you: it's a cheat sheet to setting a formal dinner table that even Grandma will be impressed by.
- Set plates
- Lay cups and glasses to the right of the dinner plates
- Align butter and salad plates on the left of the dinner plates
- Place napkins to the left of the forks
- Remember that silverware is arranged in the order it will be used
- Lay forks to the left of the dinner plates
- Place first knives and then spoons to the right of the dinner plates
- Put a butter plate and knife to the left of each dinner plate
- Lay dessert silverware above the dinner plate
- Place water glasses above the dinner knives on the right
- Pick a wine glass placement
- Arrange coffee cups and saucers to the right of the setting
- Lay the coffee spoon on the right side of the saucer
Positioning the plates first will help you set the spacing for the entire table. Plates should be about two feet apart, measuring from the center of the plate.
While the left side is traditional, feel free to experiment with cloth napkin placement and folds, if you're feeling creative.
Utensils are arranged with those used first on the outside, working in; thus, first-course silverware, such as a salad fork, will be farthest from the plate and main-course silverware will be on the inside, closest to the plate.
The only exception to this rule are small cocktail forks, which go on the outermost right side of the plate.
Flip knives so that the cutting edge faces the plate, and line up the silverware so that the bottoms of the handles align with the bottoms of the dinner plates.
Turn the dessert fork handle facing the left and the dessert spoon or knife handle to the right with the cutting edge facing the plate.
Either place the white wine to the right and red wine top center, forming a triangle, or place above the knives in a straight row, slanting down from the upper left, going from biggest to smallest glass.