Hello dear readers! Have you been chomping at the bit waiting for part two of a Tale of Two Settings? Well your prayers have been answered! Here are table setting tricks of the trade, a collection of table tidbits if you will, to help you navigate silverware, dinnerware, and everything in between. Enjoy!
Napkins can be folded or secured with a napkin ring, and placed to the left of the forks, or atop or above the dinner plate (depending upon the size of your table and formality of the meal). Here are some of my favorites:
Utensils work their way in, (*Remember that famous scene from “Pretty Woman” where the little pistol Vivian aka Julia Roberts learns about etiquette at the Beverly Wilshire?) the small fork is the salad fork, and the large fork is the dinner fork. Think of the utensils in the order of the meal – you start the meal with the salad course so the salad fork is the outermost utensil; next you have the entree with the dinner fork, etc.
Always have water glasses on the table, you don’t want to have dehydrated guests! These can be actual glasses or goblets.
Once you reach the dessert course, bring dessert forks or spoons to the table along with the plated sweet treat. If you wish to set the table with the dessert spoon or fork, simply place it above the plate (if you have place cards, the dessert fork or spoon goes between the place card and plate).
If you’re serving a salad, you have several options: a) you serve the salad with the meal and use a salad plate, placed to the left of the fork. b) you serve the salad as a first course and place the salad plate atop the dinner plate, and remove it from the table when serving the entree; c) you serve the salad directly on the dinner plate with the rest of the meal.
If you’re using place cards, position them above the dinner plate (and in this case, place the napkin atop the plate), and either hand write them or have them printed. Here are some of my favorites:
If you’re serving soup, remember to set the table with soup spoons which go to the right of the knife.
Position the knife blade so it’s facing the plate.
Confused about which bread plate is yours? Follow Emily Post’s trick: Using both hands, clasp the tips of your thumbs to the tips of your pointer fingers, making a lowercase ‘b’ with your left hand and a lowercase ‘d’ with your right hand. This little trick will remind you that “bread” is on the left and “drink” is on the right.
For casual dinners, your everyday china, flatware, and glasses work beautifully. Whip out the formal china, crystal, and silver for more formal meals (holidays, formal gatherings, celebrations, etc.)
Condiments needn’t be placed directly on the table, rather place them in serving dishes on the table; for instance, if you’re serving Parmesan cheese with some delicious fettuccine, pour the cheese into a ramekin with a little spoon and offer it to your guests – they will be delighted to get their Parmesan cheese from such an exquisite vessel!
Don’t forget salt and pepper shakers, preferably ones that coordinate with your table setting. Also, for formal dinners, consider crystal shakers. Here are some of my favorites: