Silverware Etiquette: A Guide for Beginners

If you’re invited to a dinner party, or you’re at a wedding, or meeting your partner’s family for the first time, it is important to understand proper silverware etiquette. Proper etiquette isn’t always necessary and might not be used 100% of the time when dining. Still, if you ever are in a more formal setting, it is wise to understand the ins and outs of proper silverware placement, eating styles, and habits. 

Start with High-Quality Pieces

If you’re going to spend time learning about the proper way to use cutlery and different types of plates, and glassware when sitting at a formal dinner setting, then you should start with pieces that will shine throughout your dining experience. If you’re purchasing flatware, look for pieces with a timeless design and feel balanced in your hand. You want 18/10 stainless steel for forks and spoons, and knives should be constructed from one piece of metal for added strength and durability. 

Plateware should be made from high-alumina vitrified ceramics, which results in plates, bowls, and serving platters, which are highly durable and scratch-resistant. This is the gold standard in the hospitality industry. Made In’s tabletop set comes with fully glazed, vitrified ceramic plateware to protect from unwanted scratches and breakage. 

Lastly, if you have various types of drinking glasses in your kitchen, then your wine glasses should elevate your drinking experience. For red wine glasses, look for ones that allow the wine to breathe and have a thin yet durable stem. Made In’s wine glasses’ stems are titanium-reinforced for extra durability. They also feature a thin rim, which evenly and correctly distributes the wine onto your tongue, enhancing your wine’s flavor profiles and complexity.

Now that you have the right tools to set your table, let’s get started. 

silverware etiquette

What is Proper Silverware Etiquette?

Proper silverware etiquette starts with knowing how to set a table. The silverware that you use first will be situated on the outermost part of your setting. If soup is being served, the soup spoon will be all the way on the right. One spot closer in, you will find your salad fork and smaller knife. And then, the two innermost items of your flatware will be your dinner fork and larger knife. 

When using your silverware, you want to avoid grabbing in with a fist and rather be delicate with your pieces. Your cutlery should feel balanced in your hand and not be too heavy or too light where it would impact your dining experience. 

When it comes to which hand is best to use, we say go with whatever is most comfortable. Usually, that’s going to be your more dominant hand. There are two different ways to use your flatware. Either the American or British way. 

The American vs. British Way

The British way to use your flatware at a table setting is not to switch your flatware when using your dinner knife and fork. You would place the knife in your dominant hand and then use your dinner fork in your non-dominant hand to pick up the food and put it in your mouth. This saves time when eating. 

The American way is switching your flatware, so you would cut the food with your dominant hand and then switch the fork and knife, so the fork is now in your dominant hand. 

silverware setting etiquette

Other General Etiquette Rules to Follow

At a formal table setting, it is polite to wait for everyone to be served before eating. If your food is hot, then you can start, and if the guests who have not been served yet insist that you start, then you totally can. 

If you’re eating soup, avoid making slurping sounds during a formal dinner and always spoon your soup away from you. If there is a bit of soup at the bottom of the bowl that is hard to get with a spoon, leave it be. In a formal setting, it is not polite to drink from the bowl. 

What is the Correct Way to Leave your Dinner Knife and Fork?

The correct way to leave your knife and fork is to place them facing inwards on your dinner plate. You want to put them on the plate for two reasons. First, it makes it easier for your place to be cleared, and second, the dirty flatware won’t stain the tablecloth or leave residue on the table. 

Non Formal Dining Practices

Not every dinner party or celebration has to be formal. If you feel completely comfortable with your guests or host, then you should feel free to eat in a relaxed setting. If chicken is served, feel free to use your hands to pick up the drumstick and eat it. If soup is served, you can totally pick the bowl up and bring it to your mouth. 

The most important thing to remember when dining is to be consistent with the mood set by your guests or other diners at a restaurant. When in doubt, follow the lead of the host. Last but not least, enjoy yourself. It is not the end of the world if you don’t follow proper table manners, and you shouldn’t sacrifice your enjoyment for it. So if you want to follow an appropriate dining etiquette, you now have the resources to do so! 

In search of information on how to set up a proper dining experience for yourself and any of the guests you happen to have over? Check out additional resources on “What is Flatware?” and “Best Dinnerware Sets for Everyday Use” and shop our tabletop collections today!



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