Laying the perfect dinner table


Hosting an excellent dinner party goes far beyond the quality of the food and company. Having an exquisite dining table set-up is sure to add that extra touch of sparkle and finesse to your dining experience.

Set a sophisticated tone for a morning, afternoon or evening of exceptional dining by following our step-by-step guide to laying the perfect dining table so you can seriously impress your guests and exude luxury to the fullest extent.

Laying the early foundations

The first thing you’ll want to do with your blank canvas that is your tabletop is to select a lovely, ironed tablecloth that’s befitting of the occasion and company you’re keeping and drape it over the surface.

To avoid any nasty burns or stains on your tabletop, you’ll next want to add a placemat for each guest – and place more in the centre of your table where the food will be positioned. In the centre of each mat, place the appropriate plate or bowl for the course.

The essential extras

All of these extras are just as important to consider! A bread plate should be placed to the top left of the soup bowl with a butter knife lying diagonally across the plate.

Keep your diners assured that they’ll be well hydrated with the presence of glassware. To the top right-hand side of the soup bowl, position a water glass closest to the diner. Just under an inch downwards, position a white wine glass and a red wine glass.

Finally, lay a napkin to the left of your soup bowl. If space is an issue, don’t worry, you can place cutlery on top of the napkin.

Now where did that spoon go?

With all the cutlery on the dinner table, the protocol is to work from the outside in. The left side of your soup bowl is dedicated to the forks – your salad fork goes on the outside, followed by your fish fork, and your dinner fork should sit closest to the soup bowl. On the right-hand side of your soup bowl is where your knives and spoons go, with your soup spoon sitting on the outside.

Directly above the soup bowl is where you will horizontally lie your dessert fork – prongs facing the right – and spoon – bowl facing the left.

Note that all vertical lying cutlery should be spaced about half an inch away from each other.

The main dining event

Before you tuck into any delicious food, the first thing you need to remember is to place your napkin on your lap.

The soup course will arrive first. Traditionally, the soup spoon is held in the right hand, and you spoon the soup away from you and eat from the side of the spoon closest to you. Should you need to rest your soup spoon, place it underneath the soup plate with the base of the spoon facing towards you.

Salad and fish courses follow on from this. Cutlery is held like a normal knife and fork and is rested at an angle, with the knife blade and fork tines forming a pyramid. And when you’re finished, place them together with the tines and blade facing away from you.

When the main course arrives, position your finger down the knife, rest them so that the fork lies over the blade of the knife. When finished, place them together with the tines and blade facing away from you.

A sweet ending

You’ve been holding out for that final sweet treat to satisfy your stomach – take both your dessert fork and spoon in hand to make the most of this anticipated part of the dinner schedule. Like the main course, these pieces of cutlery should be rested angled, and placed together when finished. Note that no dirty cutlery should go back on the tabletop.


Once the basics are in place, get creative and add further decorative items such as runners, candles and flowers to give your dinner the seasonal or thematic enhancement to complete the occasion! We hope that you now feel confident in your hosting abilities and can elevate your dining experiences to new levels. Share your plans and ideas for your decorative tables with us on social media – we’d love to see where your creativity takes you! Find us on Facebook (Arthur Price), Instagram (@arthurprice1902) and Twitter (@ArthurPrice1902).