When hosting a dinner party, the hosts can have a plethora of questions on their mind. Ranging from where to keep the glasses, how to keep the bowls to what cutlery to use and how; there are many such questions that can give you sleepless nights if you are the host. You might just get driven to your nerves thinking how your guests would react if anything was imperfect or wrong. But let’s assure you that it isn’t difficult to set up a dinner table for a party; it is just a matter of basic common sense and observation. Remember, even the food has to be presented in a certain way and order to make the table look appetizing. Your family and friends would not mind whether the cutlery, spoons, bowls and fork are set exactly the way it has to be; for them it simply needs to be arranged properly. But when you host for a gathering, it is certainly important to have your table clean and set. Be it at home or in a restaurant, it is always advisable to keep the table neat and the vessels arranged for convenience. In some cases, you might find that the table is well-set but there is no table cloth. Well, there is nothing wrong in it if your table is exquisitely beautiful and you intend to show it off. There is more to table setting that meets the eye; read on for details.
Dinner Table Setting Etiquette
- For a nice start, and if you wish your table to look really nice, use a tablecloth and cover the table. It can give the table a traditional touch and also can avoid stains on your table.
- Plate is the center of a dining table. The dinner plate is normally placed facing down till it is used for eating.
- The soup bowl can be placed on the dinner plate. The soup spoon is placed on the right side of the bowl, specifically to the right of the tea spoon. Do not keep it under the bowl.
- Napkins should be folded in half or quarter; in case it is a small napkin, just fold it half. Place the napkin to the left of the plate, next to the fork and the spoon or on the plate. Do not place it on the chair or on the seat.
- Bread plate is placed just above the tip of the fork.
- A dinner fork is placed to the left of the plate. Do not keep too many forks. Place three forks—one each for salad, fish and meat. Oyster fork is the only fork that is kept to the right— to the right of the soup spoon.
- Salad fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork.
- Knives are equally important for dinner. Place a butter knife horizontally on the bread plate.
- Dinner knife should be placed on the right of the service plate. Just like forks, there can be three knives, one each for salad, fish and meat. Place it in order of use from outside in.
- Keep the cake fork (if required) on the cake plate.
- The dessert spoon should also be placed on the dessert plate. The dessert cutlery should be placed with the bowl on the left of the service plate; the fork should be set on the right side of the bowl.
- A teaspoon can also be kept to the right of the dinner knife.
- Place the water glass right above the tip of the knife on the right side.
- There can also be other glasses for the cocktail if you intend to serve drinks also. The red-wine glass must be kept to the right of the water glass and the white-wine glass must be kept to the right of the red-wine glass.
- If people require coffee for dinner (usually not), it can be brought in a cup and a saucer before or after the dinner is served.
- Silverware is normally preferred over others for a proper dinner table setting. Align your service table at least one inch from the table edge with the cutlery placed at a distance of 2 inches from the table’s edge.
- The silverware utensils must be placed in the order of use. Place them the farthest from the center for a proper table setting.
- Do not panic if you do not get the ideal flatware, stemware and tableware. Make use of the normal silver sets. All that matters is the way you place and organize your table for dinner.
- Napkin can be placed according to your preference also. If you make the colour of napkins contrast that of the table-cloth, the dinner table would look really graceful.
- You can place the peppershakers, salt and ketchup generally next to the dessert bowl. Do not place complete bottles of the salt or the pepper or the ketchup. Take them out in small quantities and in cute small cups or smart shakers.
- A formal gathering certainly needs a perfect style of dinner set to be arranged. In case of an informal gathering, i.e. with friends and close relatives, the setting doesn’t require accurate perfections in terms of the inches of placement.
- Table cloths are optional. It is important to have a table mats to safeguard the table against stains. If you own exquisite and very decorative tables then avoid the table cloth.
Dinner party is not really that big a deal; once the menu is decided and arranged for, it is the decoration which gives the final look to the environment. You can have table cloths matching the china or silverware for best effects. And don’t forget to dress yourself tastefully for the occasion; wearing a smile is the final touch that’ll make everything dazzle even more.