The Revival of Common Courtesy ~ Table Settings

I have read and reread the chapter in Emily Post regarding table settings. I could do a formal post on formal settings including tablecloths, napkins, place cards, menu cards, silver, crystal. china, centerpieces, candles, etc… but I have decided after talking to many people that it is more important to concentrate on the basics.

I took a poll amongst my bowling league and various others I ran across this week and asked 1 simple question, “Where do you eat dinner?” I was utterly amazed at the answers. When I actually figured it out as a percentage, less than 10% ate at the table as a family. No wonder many of these kids do not know how to set a table properly, carry on a mealtime conversation or be meal time polite.

Consistently the answers were that they ate in front of the television and many said dinner was a free for all where everyone made their own. I have to admit I was appalled. When I was a kid, it didn’t matter how many activities were going on at school or scouts, I was expected home for dinner at a certain hour, no exceptions. I also had the chores of setting the table and cleaning up after.

So today’s topic is table settings. There are specific measurements, but we won’t get into those here. The basics are that the plate goes in front of the chair with the fork to the left of it, the knife and spoon to the right and all of them neatly placed. The napkin should be under the fork, to the left of it or if using napkin rings centered neatly on the plate. The glass goes just above the knife.

Bu sure you stop over and visit Diana over at Forgetfulone as she has wonderful diagrams of table setting layouts.

I want to expand on the basic topic and ask, How do you bring your family to the table for dinner, or do you? How do you teach your children table settings and do they have the chore(s) of setting the table and cleaning up?

Future themes are:

September 16th ~ Professional & Public Manners
September 23rd ~ Travel & Tipping
September 30th ~ Interrelationships Manners
October 7th ~ Babies & Showers
October 14th ~ Engagements & Weddings
October 21st ~ Deaths & Funerals

final blog signature.


What a good idea–we’re not eating at the table currently but plan to as soon as it’s once again available. It’s important to have a place to put your mac and cheese 🙂


Tamy, first I wanted to thank you for coming over to my place and leaving a comment. I absolutely love Anne of Green Gables also. Those books are just so precious and pure, aren’t they?

Also, I love the idea of this particular post you have here. I LOVE to teach my girls these things, and I do wish that I had started practicing these things earlier on and more often when I first had children. I started off at the dinner table with my first two children, and then eventually, as life took over, I slacked off, although I can say that they have good table manners from when I had taught them before, and they do have chores after dinner is over. I can’t say that my boys know how to set a table properly, but my girls do, partly from being conscious to teach them this, and because we have frequent tea parties, and they’ve helped me set the table for these.

This is so neat to have monthly “manners issues” featured on your blog. I will certainly be saving this to favorites and checking back in with you at least once a month. I will probably be using some of your information or ideas to incorporate into my home economics curriculum, which is full already, but if there is something I’m missing, I could sure use the helpful hints and suggestions.

At our house, some days we come together for dinner at the table, and most days we don’t, but we don’t watch TV. We don’t watch TV a whole lot in our house anyway. Usually my 15 year old goes downstairs to his room, the girls eat together at the table and talk, and my husband and I sit in the living room and talk together. We talk to the girls as we go in and out of the kitchen, and sometimes we hang around when they’ve got something they want to talk about. We don’t necessarily like this, but we’ve evolved this way somehow. We’d like to get back on track because we really do enjoy the times that we do eat together. The children all share in doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen, so that’s not a problem.

Thank you for having such a post to remind us of the importance of family and togetherness. When we get off track, we really need to try and get back on. Thanks for helping me feel God’s conviction on making sure that we’re a family that does things together. Have a good day.


You’re going to be appalled, I hope you stay my friend 😉

Unfortunately if we had to both be there to eat each night, we’d rarely eat before 9pm or later. While it’s just Paul and I, we often fend for ourselves. Which is why I specifically plan for and around leftovers. I usually only have to cook 2-3 nights a week. The other nights we use the leftover from the previous night with a little bbq sauce or as is for a sandwich or something. We eat together at the table MAYBE twice a week. I do know how to set a table, and I do plan on adjusting my work schedule a bit when we have kids. This is what we do for now.

Unkempt Mommy

This is a great topic!
I feel it is important to sit together at mealtime as well. Right now, we do it out of necessity because we have a toddler at the table in a booster seat, but we plan on continuing sitting at the table as a family even as our daughter gets older. I truly value that time we spend together.


Tamy —
I just found your site and it is so cute. I will weigh in with what we do in our family regarding table manners. I have each of my kids make dinner one night a week. The night they are in charge they plan the menu in advance, make the meal, set the table, clean up the dishes put everything away and into the dishwasher. They like to have a say in dinner, it teaches them to cook and I think they like it. They do learn how to set the table — and sometimes even do it correctly!