The Proper Way to Set a Table

Over the years, we’ve heard this question asked a lot, “What is the proper way to set a table?” While there are guidelines to follow on setting a proper table, we think a table should be unique to you, your guests, and your meal.

Below are suggestions and ideas to make your Belle Banquet both beautiful and enjoyable.


At Belle Banquet, we like to start with the placemats, of course. One of our unique paper placemat designs (or a mix) can set the entire table’s theme and mood. Find a design that works with your event, decor, and taste. You can even layer our reusable paper placemats over expensive linens or your Grandmother’s heirloom table cloth. Use a placemat in front of each chair, centered, and about 1″ from the edge of the table. This will allow for a dinner plate to be about 2″ from the edge of the table.

Plates and China

Place dinner plates directly in the center of your placemat. If you are serving soup or a salad, the soup and salad bowl is placed on top of the dinner plate. If you are serving bread, a bread plate is placed to the left, centered above your forks. A small butter knife may also be placed on top of the plate.


For a basic table setting, silverware is set up adjacent to the plate with a knife on the right, with blade facing in, and the main fork on the left. If you are serving a salad or appetizer, those respective forks are set on the outside left of the main fork. The spoon is placed to the right of the knife. While there are many different types of settings (formal, European, brunch, etc.), this is the most basic dinner setting.


A simple table setting will require a wine glass and a water glass. The glasses are placed above the knife and to the right of the plate, but within easy reach of your guests.


We love a simple colored cloth napkin for our dinner parties, because they go so well with our Belle Banquet placemat designs. Cloth napkins are also reusable, washable, and inexpensive (we like reusable products, can you tell?). Cloth napkins are a great way to add a touch of elegance to your dinner and to coordinate with just about any theme. A higher end paper napkin can also be used for easy dinner parties. Napkins are placed at the center of the plate, to the left of the silverware (if you’re serving a salad or soup), or tucked into a wine glass for a fun dimensional look.

Table Decorations and Centerpieces

We recommend keeping centerpieces tasteful and low enough that conversation can carry on between each side of the table. Table decorations and centerpieces allow for a lot of creativity, flexibility, and colorful options to create an awesome table design.

The possibilities are endless! The important part is to have fun and not worry too much about the details. Share a photo of your own table settings on our Belle Banquet Facebook Page.


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