How to set a formal dinner table


Taking care of details (excerpts)

By Marta Stewart

Special occasions, like Christmas, require a more formal table than the traditional five-piece place setting. Luckily, the modern art of table setting is quite simple once you understand a few basics.
Remember: if you learn the essentials of a well-set table, you can apply them or break them with confidence.

“Once you realize table setting is based on logic, things become less intimidating,” says etiquette consultant Pamela Hillings, author of “Manners in a Minute: Dining.” For example, you begin eating a meal by using the flatware at the outside left and right, and then work toward the plate as the meal proceeds. Stemware is set above and to the right of the dinner plate; bread-and-butter plates sit above the plate and to the left.
Flatware should align with the bottom rim of the plate. The water glass stands above the dinner knife, white wine to its right, and red wine top center.
The bread-and-butter plate and butter knife remain until dessert plate arrives.