BASIC RULES FOR TABLE SETTING
Basic rules are created as a guide, and not necessarily
followed rigidly. In setting any table, the aims should include
ease of serving the food, convenience of flatware arrangement
for eating purposes, a centerpiece and a well balanced table. With the proper atmosphere established at the table, eating becomes an enjoyable experience and not a mere task that must be done three times a day. Food that is haphazardly thrown on unmatched plates on a cluttered table certainly does not appeal to the eye.
The decoration need not be elaborate. A simple centerpiece, a dish of fruit, a few flowers, or a figurine or two. A few fresh flowers, for example, when placed on a breakfast table, will not only make the food taste better, but make the entire morning seem brighter.
1. For formal dinners: Use all-over cloth of white damask or lace. For informal dinners and luncheons: Lace or linen mats or Runners. For breakfast: Gay, colorful mats of cloths.
2. Place napkins folded in squares or rectangles, at the left of the forks, open corner nearest to the plate. If no food is on the plates when the guests are seated, the napkin (folded) may be laid on the empty plate.
3. Place silver 1-inch from edge of table in straight line. Place no more than 3 pieces of silver on each side of plate.
4. Place all forks, except cocktail fork, at left of plate with prongs up. Cocktail fork is placed on plate or at extreme right. Knives and spoons at right of plate.
5. Flat silver should be arranged at each place in the order of its use for the various courses, so guests may use the outside pieces on each side first. When salad accompanies main course, dinner fork may be used for both meat course and salad.
6. At informal dinners, dessert silver is usually on the table at beginning of the meal. For more formal service, dessert silver is brought on with the dessert.
8. Table decorations should usually be below eye level, except Candles, whose flame should be well above it.
7. Place water glass or goblet just above point of knife bread and butter plate just above the forks. Place small butter spreader across butter plate, either parallel to edge of table or in line with rest
How to Serve
1. It is correct to remove and place all dishes from the right, but foods passed must be offered from the left so the guest may use his Right hand in serving himself.
2. Always serve coffee and tea, fill water glasses from the right.
3. Just before serving dessert, clear table of everything except centerpiece. Remove crumbs with folded napkin and small plate. Dessert silver may then be put in place or served directly on individual dessert plates.
The below diagram shows a full-blown table setting for a fancy dinner party. Adjust it as necessary to fit your menu. Don't put out utensils that won't ever be used.