Table set up

How to set up the table

In my previous blog post, I already told you about the menu sequence. But what is still missing, is how do I actually set up the table properly? So which cutlery for which course? In short – how to set up the table properly!

I’ll also explain to you how a properly laid table should actually look like. From casual to the formal menu.

But that brings me straight to the question I get asked the most:

Which side of the plate does the cutlery go on?

The cutlery always comes to the right of the plate if I set the table in a simple, i.e., casual way. If I just put a knife and fork on a napkin, then the cutlery goes on the right side, on top of the napkin. And between you and me, if you’re setting the table for you and your family for a daily dinner, then it doesn’t really matter if it’s a paper napkin or a cloth napkin. A cloth napkin is of course more elegant and pleasant. However, it also needs to be washed wherer the practical part comes in as well.

tisch decken
First comes the fork, and then the knife, with the cutting edge facing the plate.

The water glass comes over the napkin, height from the knife.

Of course, a tablecloth always makes a huge difference!

table set up
This is what it looks like with a wine glass.

As you can see, the glasses form a diagonal line with the flower in the middle.

But if I want to set up the dishes for a meal, i.e., have several courses, then the fork goes to the left of the plate. And the knife to the right, with a soup spoon next to the knife.

The dessert cutlery comes on top of the plate. Which brings me to the next topic:

Setting the table—which cutlery for what?

First things first, so let’s start with the menu sequence:

  • Soup: we need a large soup spoon
  • Appetizer: a small fork and a small knife
  • Fish course: fish cutlery, if you have it.
  • Main course: large fork
  • Dessert: fork and spoon
  • Cheese: fork and cheese knife, if you have it

set up
Table set up for a menu

On the left side comes the forks (main course, appetizer and/or fish cutlery)

The knives (main course, appetizer and/or fish) and the soup spoon goes on the right side.

The dessert cutlery comes on top of the plate

In addition to the flower in the middle, there is salt and pepper

With dessert cutlery, the fork with the handle points towards the other forks and the handle of the spoon towards the glass.

And there is a very simple reason for this:

When the dessert is served, the waiter can simply pull down the cutlery by the handle and does not have to touch the cutlery by the “head”. This part is always reserved for the guest.

You should also always hold the wine or water glass by the stem. The top part of the glass always belongs to the guest as well.

But what many like to forget is that the most important thing is that the guest has to feel good, or rather he simply has to have it easy!

What do I mean by that? Quite simply, because dessert cutlery traditionally consists of a spoon and a fork, but if I’m serving something that requires a knife, then I simply put it there as well—and now you know what goes where! Awesome!


At a brunch I would also set the table simply. Just a knife, fork, napkin and a glass of water. And then put some extra cutlery on the table. Either on a plate or in a porcelain jug, depending on what you have at home. When I put the cutlery on a plate, I put a serviette under it so that the cutlery doesn’t scratch the plate so much. And of course what you serve for brunch. But you already know that when setting the table ☺️


What many like to forget is that flowers on the table are always a great decoration and it just looks more festive straight away. But what is often forgotten is that the food should also have some space on the table. 🙂 And here comes the saying: less is sometimes more, as called for. Because I want to see the person I am talking to and not just hear them.

And if you have any questions about how to set up the table, just let me know!

love, sabrina x

And if you are looking for some recipe ideas, have a look:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *