Coffee and cake for family or an elegant dinner for friends? Setting the table can be challenging even for the most experienced hostess or host. What was the right order for tableware again? How can you make a buffet table as functional as possible? These basic rules will help you set your festive table easily. 

You can begin by thinking about the theme and nature of the special occasion. This will help you choose the colours and decorations. Our easy tips will help you create a matching environment for your table setting.

Setting a coffee table

  • When choosing a location for your buffet table, make sure that people will have sufficient space to move around the table.
  • If you are expecting a large number of guests, choose a location that will allow people to serve themselves from both sides of the table. In the image, the arrows indicate the direction in which people will be moving.
  • First set the plates that people can use for sweet and savoury foods and snacks. Then place the coffee pots on the table.
  • Leave space next to the coffee pots for people to place their plates while they are serving themselves coffee. This is particularly useful for children, the elderly and those with reduced strength.
  • You can place the napkins next to the plates or fold them and put them in the coffee cups.

Setting a dinner table

  • To add to the festive atmosphere, you can place a decorative or special plate under the other plates when setting the table. The other plates should be placed on the special plate in their order of use.
  • The bread or salad plate goes on the left, beside or above the forks. The butter knife is placed on the bread plate.
  • The cutlery will be placed beside the plate in their order of use, with the cutlery for the main course being closest to the plate and cutlery for the starter furthest from the plate. If you serve soup after the starter, the spoon goes between the knife for the starter and the knife for the main course. Forks go on the left and knives go on the right, with their blades facing the plate.
  • The cutlery for dessert is placed above the plate. The dessert fork goes closest to the plate, with its prongs facing to the right. The dessert spoon is placed above the dessert fork, facing to the left.
  • The glasses are placed in the order of the courses and the related beverages in the upper-right corner. The water glass is placed first to the right, followed by the wine glasses. If schnapps is served, the glass is placed to the uttermost right.
  • The napkin can be placed on the empty plate or folded and placed on the table, beside the cutlery to the right. In more laid-back events, the napkin can be placed on the back of the chair or another creative place!
  • The seating cards can be placed on the highest glass, if empty, or on the napkin or table. Menu cards should be placed left of the plate, on the bread plate or against the glass.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to follow these rules strictly. Even formal table settings can be creative. The etiquette only serves as a framework. Have a good time!