For most of us setting a table requires little thought as to where the forks, knives, spoons and plates are placed--we simply place them where we want them out of convenience, speed or, let's face it...does it really matter? We live in a fast-paced society where most of us are lucky to get a home-cooked meal on the table, much less worry about where our flatware and plates are placed. Due to our lifestyles and perhaps the geographical region in which we live, the art of setting a table has been lost, or at least pushed back into the recesses of our minds--teetering on a blurry recollection.
If the above paragraph describes you, allow us to show you a picture of the casual table setting for reference and jogging your memory. Most times we forget which side the flatware sits or on what side the drinking glass goes. This picture will sum it up for you nicely.
The rule of thumb for practical place setting is that utensils are placed in the order of courses being served from the outside-in. This keeps your guests from guessing which piece of flatware to use during the course.
Forks always sit to the left of the plate and may sit on top of the napkin or to the inside of the napkin.
Knives and spoons are always on the right.
The napkin always sits to the left of the plate (the fold of the napkin should be situated toward the plate).
Only place the flatware you need at the table. Extra pieces that are not needed are confusing. If you or your guests do not need a soup spoon, do not place it.
Your setting may be set on a bare table, tablecloth or place mat.