If you’ve ever seen the film Pretty Woman you’ll remember the scene where the actress Julia Roberts is taken to a fancy restaurant with a look of sheer panic across her face as she is forced to choose between a myriad of cutlery. 

While you certainly won’t want to intimidate your guests with too much formality, a properly set table does do something to enhance the dining experience, especially if you’ve made a big effort to cook something special.

If you’re planning a meal for friends where you’ll be serving several courses it’s worthwhile knowing how to set the table for a formal dinner.  Not only will your table look the part, you’ll also be able to spend the evening with your guests rather than waste time hunting for extra cutlery or, worse still, having to wash up mid-course because you haven’t got enough knives and forks.


  • Left to right: fish fork, dinner fork.



  • Left to right: dinner knife, fish knife, soup spoon.


Spoons & dessert knives

  • The dessert spoon should be placed above the plate with the bowl pointing to the left.  A cake fork, if required, should be placed beneath the spoon, with the prongs facing to the right.


Bread knives

  • Bread knives should be placed across the side plate.



  • The water glass should stand above the dinner knife.  If you’re serving both red and white wine you should place the white wine glass to the right of the water glass and the red wine glass above.


Of course, a wipe clean tablecloth can make the perfect backdrop to your formal dinner.  With classic designs such as Lace Beige oilcloth tablecloth and Victorian Cream oilcloth tablecloth, you can easily create an elegant table setting.  Don’t forget you can now order your Wipe Easy tablecloth with a hem for a really neat ‘finish’.  Plus, if you are serving your meal at an extending dining table, we can now create extra large wipe clean tablecloths.  Simply measure your table and choose the required size before placing your order.