This is the process of covering the restaurant/dining tables with table clothes. Nothing is more attractive in the room than tables clothed-up with clean, crisp and well starched linen table cloths and napkin. The table cloth and napkin should be handled as little as possible to avoid creasing, which will be ensured by laying the table cloth, quickly and properly first time.


Laying the Table Cloth

  • Before laying the table cloth, the table and chairs should be in their correct position.
  • The table top should be clean and the table level, with care being taken to ensure that it does not wobble. If the table wobbles slightly, a disc sliced from a cork can be used to correct the problem.
  • Next the correct size of table cloth should be collected; most table cloths are folded in what is known as a screen fold. The waiter should stand between the legs of the table once the clothing-up has been completed.
  • If two table cloths are necessary to cover a table for a large party, then the overlap of the two table clothes should face away from the entrance to the room. This is for presentation purpose of both the room and their tables.
  • The screen fold should be open out across the table in front of the waiter with the inverted and two single folds facing him, ensuring that the inverted fold is on top.



  1. Place the thumb on top of the inverted fold with the index and third finger either side of the middle fold (see the pictures below).
  2. Spread out your arms as close to the width of the table as in possible and lift the cloth so that the bottom folds fall free.
  3. This should be positioned over the edge of the opposite side of the table from where you are standing
  4. Now let go of the middle fold and open the cloth out, drawing it towards you until the table is covered with the cloth
  5. Check that the fall of the cloth is oven on all sides.
  6. Any adjustment should be made by pulling the edge of the cloth.

If the table cloth is laid correctly the following should be apparent:

  1. The corners of the table cloth should be over the legs of the table.
  2. The cover lap should be even all around the table.
  3. The creases of the table cloth should all run the same way in the room.

If two table cloths are necessary to cover a table for a large party, then the overlap of the two cloths should face away from the entrance to the room. This is for presentation purposes of both the room and the table.

table laying


  1. Mention the steps involved in laying a table.
  2. State two precautions to take when laying a table.



This refer to the way and manner a table is arranged with table wares such as serving dishes and eating utensils ready for serving and eating.


  1. Informal Table Setting

This is designed for everyday use and suitable for any meal. Only the important cutlery are provided since the food is not a three-course meal; neither is the table cover laid before the family members or guests arrive. This is used mainly for family setting.

  1. Formal Table Setting

This is the type of table setting for festive period or special occasion such as wedding, luncheon, dinner party, etc. It is also used in standard restaurants for different types of table service. The table is arranged according to the set rules and the service of waiters and waitresses is adopted. The tables are set before the arrival of guests and contain individual cutlery and plates at each person’s cover.



  1. What is table setting?
  2. List and explain two types of table setting.


*   Place mats

*   Table napkins/Serviettes

*   Cutlery

*   Menu card and table number

*   Cruet set

*   Serving plates

*   Water goblets

*   Wine goblets

*   Side plates

*   Butter  dish

*   Ash trays etc.

Note: Some of these items depend on the meal to be served.



  1. List and explain the two types of table setting.
  2. Mention five items for setting a table.



  1. From a service salver, arrange cutleries in order of use, placing the first one to be used at the far end.
  2. Place forks on the left side of the plates and knives on the right side.
  3. The edges of cutlery should be an inch from the edge of the table or mat.
  4. The bowl of spoon and prong of fork should be turned up while the sharp edge of the knife should be directed towards the plate.
  5. Glasses should be turned up and place above the cutlery on the right side. Do not pour drink into glasses before guests arrive.
  6. Place folded serviette/napkin on the side plate, in a glass cup, or on the table at the centre of the cover.
  7. Place the cruet set at the centre of the table within easy reach for guests.
  8. Place a low flower vase at the centre of the table.



  1. Determine the number of persons to be served and the menu to be chosen.
  2. Make the table design simple and natural.
  3. Choose and use colour and material to achieve an attractive table design.
  4. The table setting should complement the meal. The materials used for table setting should suit the type of meal and method of serving it.
  5. Aim at the comfort and enjoyment of the people who are going to eat the food.
  6. All the materials required for table laying and for the meal taking must be properly cleaned.
  7. The pieces of cutlery should be placed fairly closed together.



  1. List and explain types of table setting.
  2. List six items for setting a table.
  3. Differentiate between table laying and table setting.
  4. List the steps involved in laying of a table.
  5. List and explain types of table service.



  1. A ____ adds to the attractiveness of a room. A. well laid table B.  creased table cloth C.  over lapped booty D.  tea towel
  2. Table cloth can be made clean and crisp by A. washing, starching, ironing B.  washing, dyeing, bluing C.  washing, painting, bluing D. wetting, dyeing, bluing
  3. The table cloth and napkin should be handled as little as possible to avoid ____ A. tearing
  4. glazing C. creasing D. bending
  5. One of the following is not needed for setting a table. A. Place mat B. Disposable gloves
  6. Cutlery D. Drinking glasses
  7. Most table cloths are folded in what is known as ____ A. table fold B.  chair fold C. screen fold                 top fold



  1. Mention four materials needed for table setting.
  2. Outline three steps to follow when setting a table.


See also

Specialized service





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