As promised, we're continuing the topic of Table Etiquette and Part 2 today is all about how to properly set a table. With the upcoming holiday season upon us, I thought this would be a relevant post for many of you.
There are two types of table settings: informal and formal. Whether dining out at a restaurant or in another's home or hosting guests in your own home, here is what you can expect as well as what you'll need to know as it pertains to table settings.
Rules for a Proper Place Setting
A meal that requires a formal place setting will consist of salad, bread, soup, drinks and a main course with dessert and coffee following.
A formal table set with every imaginable piece of silverware can appear daunting, but things will go smoothly if you remember one important rule: start from the outside and work your way in toward the dinner plate. After a course is completed, the server will remove the appropriate silverware that will no longer be required. If there is something still in question, as a last resort you can follow the lead of your host.
Also upon finishing your meal, place your silverware at a 4:00 to 10:00 angle with the knife blade facing you. This position will let your server know that your plate is ready to be cleared.
1. Similar to the informal place setting, again forks are placed on the left of the dinner plate, knives and spoons go on the right.
2. Silverware is to be placed on the table in the order it will be used; silverware that will be used first should be set to the farthest left and right sides of the plate.
3. Knives should be placed with their cutting-edge toward the dinner plate, except the butter knife which should be laid flat on a bread plate.
4. Utensils should be roughly 1/2 inch away from the plate and should be lined up evenly by using the bottoms as measure.
5. Dessert silverware can be placed at the table setting if you wish or brought out later just before dessert arrives. The dessert fork and/or spoon should be centered above and parallel to the dinner plate.
6. For any type of place setting, avoid using more silverware than the meal calls for.
1. The bread plate should be placed to the right and slightly above the salad plate.
2. Salad plates are placed to the left and just above the forks.
3. Dinner plates should be placed about 2 inches from the table's edge, centered on the place mat or squarely in front of the chair for a proper place setting.
4. Soup bowls are placed on top of the dinner plates.
5. For a formal place setting, when serving multiple courses, the host may opt to serve each course on separate serving plates.
6. Clear dishes and utensils after each course is finished by all at the table.
1. Water glasses should be placed above the dinner knife, with other drinking glasses arranged neatly nearby the water glass and to the right.
2. Coffee cups and saucers may be placed on the table to the right of the knife and spoon.
Napkins and Name Cards
1. For a less formal proper place setting, napkins are placed either on the plate or to the left of the forks. For a more formal place setting, napkins are placed inside a drinking glass whereby a server may place it in your lap upon being seated at the table. Sometimes the napkin will be folded and laying in the center of your plate or underneath the silverware.
2. Name cards are always a good idea for formal place settings, especially if the dinner party is large (such as a wedding) or even a table set for twelve. The card should be placed above the dessert utensil and to the left of the drinking glasses.
3. During the meal the napkin should always be placed in your lap. If you must excuse yourself from the table, the napkin should be left on the arm or seat of your chair, or to the left of your plate as a last resort (as dirty napkins on the table are never appealing).When everyone at your table is through with dessert, you can fold your napkin neatly to the right or left of your plate.'
Courses During a Meal
It is important to remember not to begin eating until everyone else at the table has been served first. Always offer salt, pepper and dressing to others before using it yourself. All items that are in need of being passed around the table from person to person should be done in a clockwise fashion (to your left).
Always offer to others before serving yourself. Never butter your bread directly from the butter dish, regardless of if you will be sharing or using it only for yourself. Instead, place some butter directly on your bread plate. Also, do not butter your roll or slice of bread all at once; break off pieces and butter each one at a time as you eat them. *You'll notice this is the same theme to eating your entree, cutting before each opposed to slicing everything up ahead of time.
The best way to spoon soup is away from you, which avoids splashing. Don't crumble your crackers into your bowl, instead break a piece of and eat it before or after a spoon of soup. If your soup happens to contain noodles, it is acceptable to cut them with the edge of your spoon to create bite-sized pieces.
When eating a salad, if there are a few pieces that are too large for your liking, be sure to slice them ahead of time then place your knife (with the blade facing you) across your butter plate. Cherry tomatoes can be tricky and messy, it is best to pierce them with the sharpest point of your knife.
When eating any entree be sure to always eat bite by bite, avoid cutting all or large portions of your meal beforehand. Always be sure to point fork prongs downward, especially when cutting meat. Take small bites and avoid mentioning that you are "stuffed" or "really full" at the table as it is not classy to overeat.
Your dessert spoon or fork can be moved to the left side of your place setting as soon as your dinner plate is removed. When eating apple pie or any other dessert a la mode, it is proper to use both the fork and spoon. The fork is used in your right hand while a small dollop of ice cream can be added/pushed onto the forkful of pie with the spoon in your left hand.
A Final Note
As always, if you have been invited as a guest into another's home for a meal, it is polite to mail out a thank you card no more than 48 hours after attending the event. Of course, before leaving, be sure to thank the host in person for extending the invitation to you and thank the other guests at your table for their dining conversation.
Again, by no means is this a complete, exhaustive list, but these tips will lead you through any dining adventure with confidence!
Part 3 will continue next Monday and will conclude the Manners Monday series on dining. Consider this series your crash course on table etiquette. If you missed last week's post on Table Etiquette, be sure to read Part 1.
If you enjoyed this post, please pin it for future reference or to share the love! Do you enjoy entertaining? Maybe you prefer to dine out and leave the mess in someone else's kitchen. Does informal or formal describe your personal table setting style?
Thank you for reading!