Have you ever wondered how to set a table? The holidays are here, and with it, dinner parties as well as formal family meals that finally put grandma’s silver to use. Laying them out, however, can be a confusing task: what utensils to use, and which order to place them in, depends on everything from the style of the event to how many courses you’re having. (A general rule of thumb? Every utensil put on the table should be used—so you can skip the spoon—and set in order of use, from the outside in.)

With these questions in mind, Vogue’s compiled a handy guide—with photo examples—on how to properly set a table, whether you are having a casual weekday meal or a fancy Christmas feast.

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Casual Place Settings

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You’ll need: napkin, napkin ring, salad/appetizer fork, dinner fork, placemat, plate, dinner knife, appetizer knife, spoon, bread plate, butter knife, white wine glass, red wine glass, and water glass

Formal place settings are used for meals longer than three courses. There’s no definitive guide to formal place settings, as it often depends on what’s being served. “There are many many variations that a multi-course meal could have when it comes to the setting,” explains Emily Post. “Soup may be served in between a salad and main course, which would move the spoon between the two knives, there could be a soup course and a palette cleansing mint sorbet course which would mean using two spoons, or having spoons brought out for these courses.”

If you’re attempting this setting, this writer advises consulting the menu, and then setting the utensils in the order of use. Again, the first piece of cutlery used should be placed on the farthest outside.

In this case, we will stick to the classic formal courses outlined in Tiffany’s Table Manners For Teenagers: soup, fish, meat, salad, and dessert, which are served in that order. (If a casual setting requires one of each utensil and an informal two, a formal setting will require three.)

To the left of the plate, from left to right, are the fish fork, entree fork, and then the salad fork. To the right of the plate, from right to left, salad knife, entree knife, fish knife, and spoon. Wine, water glasses, and champagne glasses are arranged above the knives. A napkin with a napkin holder should be to the left of the forks, while a bread plate goes above the forks, with the butter knife laid across the plate.

With so many courses, multiple dishes will be used. Therefore, a charger plate is necessary as a base component. As the courses progress, meal plates will be placed upon the charger.

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