Chances are high you’ll be nominated as the table setter at some point during the holidays. Whether it is because you’ve (over-) generously offered to host the turkey- dinner in a sudden boost of energy and enthusiasm or simply because Grandmother doesn’t consider you capable of any task more responsible than table setting – as a child of good family you need to know how to properly do that before you can even think of hosting your own cocktail.
Have a look at the illustration to get an impression of how to both informally and formally lay your table, but keep on reading for some insider tips!
- Spacing: Set plates about 65 centimeters apart from each other (from plate centre to plate centre) to make sure everyone has enough space. Because even if it’s no good manners putting up your elbows on the table, nobody likes a claustrophobic aftertaste.
- Silverware: Only put out utensils that are needed and place it in the order of its use, starting from the outside in. Forks go on the left, spoons and knives on the right (sharp end towards the plate!).Dessert silverware goes above the plate with the fork handle to the left and the spoon/knife handle to the right. In case you only prepare a fork, its handle should be at the right.
- Napkins: for a formal event they should be cloth and is advisable to put them into an elegant napkin ring. If the event is rather informal, you can use simple white paper napkins or colored ones that (preferably) go with the placemats/tablecloth you’re using.
- Glasses: are to be placed above the knives in a row slanting downward from left to right. White wine and rosé should be cooled, red wine opened a little in advance and the water glasses should be filled by the moment your guests sit down.
All in all, don’t panic. The most important ingredient to a successful dinner is the atmosphere – a good combination of people, interesting conversations and a good laugh is what makes an evening a good one. I don’t think a wrongly laid napkin has ever caused more than a small sigh.