This Simple Trick Helps You Set the Perfect Table Every Time

What side of the plate should you put the fork on? How about the spoon? This simple acronym will help you remember.

You’ve planned the perfect dinner party. The hors d’oeuvres are prepped and assembled. The pot roast is done and warming. The apple-feta tossed salad is crisp. Your friends will be over any minute with giant appetites—and maybe a bottle of wine—in tow. Now, there’s just one thing left to do: set the table.

But suddenly, your mind goes blank. Where do the forks go? Does the napkin go on the left or right? Where do I put the wine glasses? Don’t panic! Just remember the acronym FORKS.

What Does FORKS Stand For?

This easy-to-remember acronym is backed by home cooks and restaurateurs alike. (Southern belle Reese Witherspoon even mentions it in her book Whiskey in a Teacup!)

To use it, go from left to right and spell out:

F: Fork

O: Plate (It’s shaped like the letter “O,” right?)

R: Right side of the plate

K: Knife (The sharp edge used for cutting should be faced inward, toward the plate.)

S: Spoon

Psst…We put 15 of our staffers to the test and asked them to set a table. Only two of them managed to get it right. (That should give you some peace of mind if you feel alone!) Can you believe no follows these 20 dining etiquette rules anymore?

But Does the Napkin Go on the Left or Right?

Since there are a few different ways to set a table (depending on the number of guests, the occasion and how much space is available), the proper placement of dinner napkins is up for debate. However, the two most common places you’ll find napkins are under the fork to the left of the plate or on top of the plate. The latter method allows the guest easy access to unfold it and place it on their lap.

When it comes to drinkware (like water glasses and wine glasses), simply place them above the knives and spoons—aka above the right side of the plate.

For more tips and tricks, check out our complete guide on how to set a table.

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Ceara Milligan
Ceara Milligan is an avid people fan and an unabashed brand geek. Her true passion lies within research, where she unveils consumer, brand, and industry insights and discovers the many ways in which people shop, communicate, search, and design a unique presence both online and offline. She loves staying informed about trends that affect the outlook of businesses every single day. She has extensive experience in developing digital and brand strategies and inspiring creativity across all channels and touchpoints. She has implemented strategies for brands in various industries, including healthcare, agriculture, food and beverage, travel and tourism, CPG, nonprofit, insurance, financial services, beauty, education, retail, B2B, and automotive. Ceara graduated cum laude from Marquette University in 2012, where she studied Marketing, Information Technology, and Advertising. When she isn't in marketer mode, Ceara can be found listening to Third Eye Blind, cheering on Marquette Golden Eagles basketball, playing trivia, petting strangers' dogs, and baking up a storm.