Setting the perfect table for Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow these tips for proper placement of the plates, stemware and silverware.

Thanksgiving is only a week away and if you’re like most of us you’re already getting the house ready for the big day. Today’s modern floor plan has in many cases eliminated the formal dining room and replaced it with a less formal eating area in the main living area, usually opening into the kitchen. The open floor plan allows for an easier way to entertain and it also allows the host and hostess the opportunity to socialize with their guests while preparing the meal.

The less formal floor plan does not mean you have to forego a formal table setting. And while having sterling silver or bone china is certainly not a requirement, if you have them, the holidays are a perfect time to pull them out, just remember to polish anything that has tarnished.

Setting a holiday table is really no different than setting a regular table, there’s just usually a lot more on the table and if you’re using the good china and crystal there are certain rules to follow when using multiple serving pieces, dishes and stemware. A good rule of thumb is if you have the part of the meal that needs the utensil, then use it. If you aren’t having shrimp, don’t put the shrimp fork on the table.

Formal Place Setting

For the formal place setting the plate is placed in the center of the placemat. If you’re using a table cloth you’re going to have to eyeball the placement of the plate. I usually use the center of the chair as the ideal place. Forks are on the left with the salad fork on the outside and the dinner fork closest to the plate.  On the right side of the plate you’ll place the dinner knife, tablespoon, teaspoon or soup spoon. Below is a diagram of a formal dinner place setting using all utensils.


Remember this is a guideline. Unless you have an extremely large tale and few guests you won’t be able to fit all of the service on the table and still put food on it.

Of course there is more to the table than the place setting and the food. Most Thanksgiving tables feature the turkey as the centerpiece but it’s still fun to make festive place cards  for the occasion. Click here for some fun place card ideas that you can make with the kids.

Since there is rarely room for a centerpiece it’s nice to fold the napkin in a festive design and place on the center of the plate. It adds color and is very eye catching. It’s also a great place to put place cards. Watch the video below to fold a lovely leaf napkin.