Setting the table with flatware for a special occasion may require an etiquette lesson but buying the right flatware doesn’t have to be complicated. Here’s how to select silverware that will be the perfect complement to your table setting.
Basic stainless steel flatware is a classic and trusted choice. Styles range from simple and clean lines to ornate details, round edges to square, and matte finish to shiny. For everyday silverware on a modern table, go with a polished mirror finish and slim handles. Or, for a more dazzling option, choose a style with inlaid patterns and designs. Wooden-handle flatware adds a natural flair to a rustic table setting. Add festive color to the table during the holidays with bright red-handled utensils. They’re also perfect for casual or outdoor use.
There are many rules for how to set a table. Generally, you should set forks on the left from the outside in, in order of use. Cutlery and spoons go to the right of the plate. But you can also go with a creative approach. Fold a linen napkin into an open envelope shape and tuck in all three utensils. Place it on the plate or to its left.
Features to Look for
Keep these points in mind as you select your new flatware:
• Quality. Look for the best food quality stainless steel, marked 18/10 flatware (18 percent steel and 10 percent nickel). It’s stain- and rust-resistant and dishwasher safe. It will maintain its shine throughout the product's lifetime. Stainless steel flatware is practical for everyday use, since it doesn't scratch or need polishing like sterling silverware.
• Handles. Choose handles that are attached with rivets or are one piece with the utensil end, rather than glued on. Flat handles and those with angled corners can be uncomfortable to hold, so look for thick, rounded handles.
• Care. You can put most styles through the dishwasher with no problems. For some finishes, you should avoid using liquid dishwasher detergents with lemon or other acidic additives. Flatware with wooden and bamboo handles needs to be hand-washed.
Most casual flatware sets include 20 pieces: four dinner forks, salad forks, knives, tablespoons and teaspoons. Some 16-piece sets include only one type of fork. Look for serving sets that come with matching serving utensils such as serving spoons, serving forks, and salad or pie servers.