When you invite people to your party the first thing they will look at is the presentation. Decoration, your own outfit - no doubt you’ve put together the perfect party, but one key part that most people forget about is the way that the table is set.

The thing is: your guests have the most time to look around once they are sitting down and eating. Unless you’ve planned icebreaker type games or dive right into bridal party speeches, they will quickly begin noticing your decor, and that goes for good and bad presentation as well. Which is why you need to have proper table settings that match the kind of event you’re having. For example, you would expect a formal wear wedding to have a formal table while a kid’s birthday party might only have your standard plates and flatware. 

Not to worry though, we’ll break down two of the most common table settings so you can choose the right one for your event!

Party Planning Tips: Table-settings 101 - Balsa Circle Blog

Casual table setting

This one is used for casual meals. It’s simple so you can use it for so many event types like family dinners, bridal brunches, even outdoor weddings!

The rules:

  • The fork is to the left of the plate
  • The knife is to the right of the plate with the edge facing inward
  • The spoon is to the right of the knife
  • The water and wine glasses are above the knife and spoon
  • The plates are in this order from top to bottom: soup, salad, dinner

Bread, butter and an extra knife are optional, these should be above the fork, placed on a smaller plate.

Also, the napkin can be placed to the left of the fork, or even on the plate and accented with a napkin ring.

Party Planning Tips: Table-settings 101 - Balsa Circle Blog

Formal table setting

This setting is mostly used on special occasions or formal events (such as business meetings and weddings). It’s quite complicated, so unless you have to set the table in this way regularly, then we suggest you take a look at our cheat sheet and do everything based on it.

The picture will tell you the exact way how to do this, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You need to have a charger, this will protect the linens and elevate your decor
  • The tablecloth should be ironed or steamed 
  • During this setting you’re not only taking away used plates, but bringing out the next ones
  • You can place the following plates on the charger. Charger plates should be taken away prior to dessert being served

Party Planning Tips: Table-settings 101 - Balsa Circle Blog

Whether you choose a formal or informal table setting for your event, keep in mind that these rules are not set in stone. If you're skipping soup then you're certainly not going to need soup spoons and so on. We hope that these guides help your party planning to go smoothly but let us know in the comments if you have any questions about place settings - we're here to help! 

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