Dinner table setting tips for an elevated wine & dine experience

white dining table with Cutlery, plates, napkins, candles, floral decorations and glasses elegant & formal dining table setting decor ideas


With the advent of and everything being just a click away, our lives have become hectic and chaotic. As a result, we rarely find the time to sit down and properly enjoy the food we cook with so much love and care in our kitchens. We’ve all heard that food is meant to be enjoyed by engaging all of our senses. Learning how to set up a dinner is a way of engaging our sense of sight. In fact, setting up your dinner in a graceful or thoughtful manner is crucial to being a good host. Knowing the different kinds of elegant dining table ideas and settings will also help you understand what’s expected of you as a guest at a formal or casual dinner party.

So, we have compiled this easy step-by-step guide with our top tips and ideas to help you understand how to create an elegant dinner setting for a basic, casual, and formal occasion.



Guide to setting up the dinner for every occasion


Basic dinner setting


basic dinner table set up diagram elegant dining table setting decor ideas
Basic dinner setting diagram

Image Source: Wayfair.com


Let’s start with a basic set-up that you can use for dinner with your family. Taking the pain to properly set the can be a great start to an everyday family dinner. When we put a little thought and effort into our meals, it makes a huge difference. Follow the steps laid down below to set up an everyday dinner table –

  1. Start with laying out a placemat on the table.
  2. Place your dinner plate in the centre of the placemat.
  3. Place the napkin to the left of the plate and put a fork on top of it. Alternatively, you can also put the napkin on top of the dinner plate.
  4. Put the knife to the right of the plate and place the spoon to the right of the knife.
  5. Ensure that the handles of all the cutlery you use are pointing towards the guest.
  6. Also, the bottom of the cutlery should align with the plate.
  7. Set the water glass above the knife in the top right corner.
  8. If the meal includes salad or soup, set the salad plate on top of the dinner plate and the soup bowl on top of the salad plate.


Casual dinner setting


casual dinner table set up diagram elegant dining table setting decor ideas
Casual dinner setting diagram

Image Source: Wayfair.com


If you are having company over for an informal dinner party, you have to elevate your dinner setting for the occasion. In this style, you can incorporate elegant ideas into your setting for a fine dining experience. This version will add a touch of grace without being over the top or overwhelming. Also, keep in mind that this setting can be tweaked depending on what you are serving. So, lay out your in the following way –

  1. For a casual setting, you can choose between a tablecloth, runner, or placemat.
  2. As usual, the dinner plate will go in the middle of the setting.
  3. The same rule for plate placement will be applicable here as well. The dinner plate will be placed first then the salad plate and finally, the soup bowl.
  4. To the left of the plate, set the dinner fork first followed by the salad fork. You can place these on top of a napkin.
  5. To the right of the dinner plate, place the knife first with the blade facing towards the plate. Then, place the teaspoon followed by the soup spoon.
  6. The water glass will go to the right of the plate and the wine glass will go to the right of the water glass.
  7. The napkin can go underneath the fork or on top of the dinner plate.
  8. If you are keeping individual salt and pepper shakers for the guests, they should be kept at the top of the placemat. Otherwise, place them at the centre of the or in the middle of each end if you are using a long rectangular table.


Formal dinner setting

formal dinner table set up diagram
Formal dinner setting diagram

Image Source: John Lewis & Partners on Pinterest


A formal event calls for an elegant dining setting which means it’s time to arm yourself with stylish decor ideas. Generally, a multi-course meal will be served at a formal dinner. This is when you get really fancy with your accessories and other arrangements. Supporting pieces like napkin rings or holders, place cards, and wine decanters can really tie the whole look together. So, let’s have a look at how to set up a formal dining table –

  1. Start by laying an ironed tablecloth to cover the table.
  2. Put down a charger for each guest in front of their chairs. You can choose to use two chargers to add interest and texture to your setting.
  3. Place the dinner plate on top of the charger followed by the salad plate. Traditionally, the bread plate is set to the upper left of the setting. However, to save space you can put the bread plate on top of the salad plate.
  4. To the left, place the dinner fork followed by the salad fork.
  5. To the right, place the knife first followed by the spoon. Place the dessert spoon above the dinner plate in a horizontal position.
  6. The place card will go above the dessert spoon. Ensure that you write the names on both sides of the card so guests can easily locate their seats. It also helps guests know who they are talking to.
  7. The wine and water glasses will go in the upper right-hand corner of the charger. Place the white wine glass at a slightly lower level to the right of the water glass and finally, to its right, place the red wine glass.
  8. Place the napkin in the centre of the plate stack. Here you can elevate your setting with a napkin ring.


Top tips and elegant ideas for dining setting

  • When it comes to a casual dinner setting, one of the simplest ideas is to tie the flatware with a satin ribbon or drape them gently in a napkin. It adds texture to the setting.
  • Placing the napkin on top of the dinner plate instead of underneath the fork can create a more elegant setting. Sometimes, the guests inadvertently drop the forks while trying to get the napkin which might cause embarrassment.
  • You can opt for fancy water glasses in pretty colours to ensure that your setting stands out. Also, you can buy fancy cutlery for special occasions.
  • If you choose to go for a centrepiece, ensure that it does not block the guests’ view.
  • Using woven jute mats or banana leaves as placemat substitutes is a great idea if you want to Indianize your dining decor. You can also opt for copper, brass, or earthenware for an added Indian touch.
  • Always include salt and pepper when setting up your dinner table. The salt shaker should be kept to the right of the pepper shaker.
  • Tablecloths form an essential part of a formal dining set-up. For a casual or basic dinner set-up, they are optional.
  • You can simply elevate your dining table with a floral centrepiece.
  • It’s essential to ensure that your dinner setting is cohesive. So the tablecloth, napkins, placemat, and centrepieces should blend into the overall room decor.


Elegant dinner setting ideas for every style (Image gallery)


Simple and laid back



Cosy and casual



Formal and classy




With the holidays and New Year around the corner, many of us are waiting for the festive fun to begin. If you are the designated host charged with organising dinner parties or just someone who enjoys being a gracious host, this is a great time to learn some -setting tips and tricks. However, learning how to properly set up a is also useful for everyday or casual dinners. Knowing that you put a little more effort into your meal can transform your whole dining experience. That is why spending some time going over the basic guidelines laid down in this article is worthwhile.

Setting up a basic is quick and easy; you just have to take care of the basic cutlery and plate arrangement. A slightly upgraded version of this is the casual setting which is useful for informal dinner parties at home. Here, you just have to include salad and soup bowls according to the meal you will be serving. Finally, we have the fancy formal dinner event where the setting is more put together and elegant. You serve a multi-course meal with additional dinner accessories for a graceful and classy arrangement. So, armed with this easy step-by-step guide, top tips, and ideas displayed above, get ready to set up a memorable dining table.


*The featured image used in this article is from B Floral




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