Your online resource

for all things culinary

HOME Search this Site All Recipes Special Sections Articles &  Resources Kitchen Equipment Food & Health Growing Food Directories

Missing an Ingredient ?


Table Settings - Part III

Informal Place Settings

Jump to:-    Cutlery  |  Glasses  |  Crockery  | Napkins  |   Sample Menus

Go To:-    Part I - Essentials   |  Part II - Formal Place Settings |  Part  IV - Buffet Table Settings  |  Napkin Folding

The rules for informal place settings are relatively few compared to formal dining, for instance, it is acceptable to mix and match if you don't have enough tableware and it  has become increasingly popular to do so. However, you should still stick to the acknowledged basics of table setting in order not to confuse diners.




Unlike formal table settings, the dessert fork and spoon can be placed directly above the dinner plate horizontally. Arrange the fork facing right and the spoon facing left.  It is still however, best to stick to certain rules when laying an informal place setting.


Knives and spoons are placed on the right hand side of the place setting, with the exception of the butter knife which can, if you wish, be placed on the side plate, and forks are placed on the left hand side. All knife blades should be facing towards the plate  and forks should be placed with their prongs facing upwards  and the cutlery should be placed in the order in which they will be used, so the first utensil should be on the right hand side furthest from the plate, then second utensil on the inside of the first and so on.   The same applies to the forks on the left hand side of the setting.  Specialist cutlery such as corn on the cob holders can be brought to the table with the relevant course.


Serving cutlery can be placed on the table close to where the serving dishes will be placed, depending on whether diners will be allowed to help themselves and condiment sets should also be placed  strategically on the table in easy reach of the diners.




Depending on whether you are going to serve different wines,  the glasses should be arranged in the order in which they will be used and placed directly above the corresponding utensil on the right.  In general white wine glasses are smaller than red wine glasses.   Liqueur glasses should be brought in with the coffee and liqueurs.




For informal dinners,  plain or patterned crockery can be used although the plainer the pattern, the less it will detract from the food.  The side plate always goes to the left of the place setting and place mats can be placed between the knives and forks if desired.


 Follow us 



In general, plate sizes increase with each course and whilst it is perfectly acceptable to have the main dinner plates in situ at each place setting at the beginning of the meal, it does have the disadvantage that the plates will be cold when the main course is eventually served.  It is also acceptable for individual first course servings to be put in each place (on top of the charger or main course plates)  before the diners get to the table.




Cloth napkins are preferable although paper napkins are acceptable to use for informal meals. However, buy as good quality paper napkins as you can afford as small flimsy serviettes seldom serve the purpose they are meant for.


There are  three ways napkins can be presented on the table:-


1. In napkin rings and placed to the left of the place setting -  on the side plate is a good place. Roll or fold neatly before placing in the napkin ring.


2. Placed attractively in the largest wine glass.


3. Plainly or decoratively folded and placed in the centre of the place setting, on the side plate or under the outermost fork.



Sample Menus for an informal dinner


Informal dinners usually consist of between 3 and 4 courses. Below are samples of what could be served


3-Course Menu

4-Course Menu


The art of planning a well balanced menu,  even for an informal dinner, is a science unto itself and will be covered separately.



 Sign up for Free E-mailings

I still haven't found what I'm looking for


Try our search facility. Type in your main ingredient (s) or whatever you happen to have available in your store cupboard or fridge and allow us to whisk you up a recipe in seconds!




For full advanced search tips visit our main search page via the red "search this site" button at the top of the page


About Us  |  Contact Us  |   Advertise |    Private Privacy  |   Media Resources  |  Links  |  Sitemap  |  Printing Recipes  |  


Abbreviations on this site  




This Web Site was designed and created by Copyright 2000 to date [Recipes4us] All rights reserved.

 Some Photos