Setting The Table

Creating an attractively set table Setting the Tablecontributes to the ambiance of a meal as much as the food. No matter how simple the fare, it elevates the occasion and adds a little sparkle to the experience for everyone.

The Table Covering: It doesn’t have to be an official table cloth. Think about using a quilt, a special blanket, bed sheet, or mixing several scarves or cloths that work well together. What about a table runner that extends the length or width of your table? Have a beautiful table? Leave it bare to show it off!

The Centerpiece: Why spend money? Look at everyday things in a new way and use what you already have.

  • Gather greenery, twigs, pine cones, even rocks from the outdoors.
  • Candle light is magical and makes everything glow. Vary heights for interest, and be sure to use unscented to avoid competing with the food.
  • Flowers are a lovely addition; again, be aware of competing scents.
  • Do a sit test to ensure that the height is low enough that everyone can see each other across the table.

There is often a question of “How can I tell which is my bread plate?”, especially when sitting at a crowded table. One answer is to make a “b” with your left index finger and thumb, and a “d” with your right; “b” for bread is on your left, and “d” for drink is on your right. Another trick is to remember “BMW”: bread (on the left); Meal (in the center); and Water (on the right).

The Table Setting: Don’t have enough of each plate size for the entire table? Mix them up! Varying the patterns and colors makes the table more interesting. Do the same with your glassware.

  • The optimal measurement between place settings is 22” but can work with as little as 18”.
  • A charger is used as a decorative place holder for the dinner plate.
  • Center the charger or dinner plate approximately 2″ from the edge of the table. Flatware should line up with the bottom of the plate.
  • The napkin should be placed to the left of the utensils, with the folded edge pointing toward the plate. It may also be placed directly on the dinner plate.
  • Soup bowls are placed directly on the dinner plate.
  • Salad plates go above the forks to the left side of the dinner plate.
  • The bread plate is slightly above the salad plate, and closer to the dessert fork.
  • The water glass is placed directly above the dinner knife.
  • The wine glass is placed to the right of the water glass.
  • Serving tea and coffee? Cups and saucers may be preset on the table, to the right of the utensils, or not, depending upon when it will be served.

Detailed Illustration Of Setting the Table DiagramFlatware: The general rule is to “start from the outside and work your way in” towards the plate, so set the table according to the menu, and include only those utensils that will be needed.

  • Forks belong on the left of the dinner plate, knives and spoons go on the right.
  • Knife blades should always face inward, towards the dinner plate.
  • The dessert fork and/or spoon may be placed horizontally over the dinner plate.

Whether you are eating off of paper plates or the most delicate of china, setting the table for a holiday meal doesn’t need to stressful. Remember, perfection is over-rated, and expecting imperfections will help you to reduce anxiety and enjoy the moment. Your guests are there to spend time with you!

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