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11/23/2011 10:56 am ET Updated Oct 11, 2012

Holiday Table Setting: Where Everything Goes

Photo: Flickr, Dinner Series

When it comes to holiday dinners we like them to be casual, but that doesn't mean plastic cups and utensils. Even if a dinner is informal, it's good to know the general (but absolutely not hard and fast) ground rules for setting a table and where everything, from the different plates to the wine glasses, should go. We break it down for you here.

Plates. The dinner plate goes, of course, in the center of a place setting while bread plates are often placed left of the dinner plate. Chargers, a larger plate that is placed underneath the dinner plate sometimes, is generally used as a decoration so it's never actually used.

Forks. Forks should always be placed left of the dinner plate. A lot of times there are separate forks for the salad and the main course. When that's the case, the fork farthest from the dinner plate is the salad fork. You would start there and work your way in. Dessert forks should be placed above the dinner plate, however.

Knives. Knives should be to the right of the dinner plate and just like forks, there are (apparently) salad knives. The same rules apply. Work your way from the outside.

Spoons. Soup spoons tend to go with knives to the right of the dinner plate while dessert and coffee spoons are usually placed just above the dinner plate.

Glasses. Glasses and stemware should be placed just above the knives to the right of the dinner plate. Smaller glasses are usually used for water whereas the larger ones are for wine.

Napkins. Napkins often are place in one of two places: On top of the dinner plate or under the forks to the left hand side of the plate.

For more table setting ideas, check out this simply but stylish napkin fold and these place card ideas.

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