Napkin Placement

I’ve had a few comments asking about napkin placement when setting the table. Does it go on the right, left or center? Unlike the game, there are no dice to roll to tell us the answer. It ultimately depends on the formality of the meal, so allow me to guide you through it.

For the most formal eating occasions, the napkin is in the center, either on the plate or charger. Although the only silverware on the table during each course is what is to be used during said course, the table is fully set until the first course is served. At that time, everything is removed other than what is needed for that course. This is when having help comes in handy. Alas, most of us do not. From this stems what most Americans consider formal…the “working in” method, with the utensils to be used first generally on the outside. Even in this instance, I would recommend that you place the napkin on the plate. One extra benefit of this is it encourages people to immediately put their napkin on their lap, which is in accordance to etiquette.

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For less formal occasions (even those still involving china), you can place the flatware directly on top of the napkin or place the napkin directly to the left of the fork(s).

 

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For a typical place setting, you have one fork (two at most, as shown in photo), a knife and a spoon. I would recommend placing the napkin to the side of the fork(s), unless space is an issue. This biggest concern with placing the napkin under the fork(s) is the potential fumbling when people pick the fork(s) up and try to replace them.

If you are uncertain, err on the side of caution, and place the napkin on the plate. No one will notice that you don’t have servers; they’ll be too impressed with your napkin-placing skills. 😉

Please let me know any questions you have! Thank you for reading!

Author: eglass

I'm a wife to Garrett, mother to two littles and a lover of etiquette.

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