I received an e-mail today from Martha Stewart on how to set a table, which reminded me that this information probably should have been one of my first posts, since it is such a basic lesson in hostessing. Having learned how to set a table back in my cotillion days, I feel it is important for everyone to know how to properly do so, and there are many good hostesses out there who are clueless. It isn't hard to learn, so here's a quick diagram guide (click on image to enlarge):
Of course, depending on the function, you can certainly add or subtract pieces. Like for instance, if you are not serving soup but are serving an appetizer, eliminate the bowl, and replace with an appetizer or salad plate. You can also be less formal and place the silverware on the napkin. This model is only a guide and totally adaptable to your own dinner party. Just be sure to put the forks on the left, and the knives and spoons on the right. Simple and easy, and if nothing else goes right throughout your event, at least you set the table properly like a good Hostess!
You can also check out the Martha Stewart in-depth version here.