How to set a table
A beautifully set table can enhance the ambience of any meal and knowing how to set a table is something everyone should know how to do properly. Whether it's a family dinner or a group of friends gathering to break bread and enjoy one another's company, your guests will be sure to enjoy sitting at a table that has been set to please. Dinner plates should be placed on the table two inches from the edge. Some believe that dinner plates should not be on the table when the guests sit down, however for a complete setting and a smoothly run meal having the plates on the table beforehand is entirely acceptable. Conventionally, if the plates have a pattern on them, the plate should be placed with the design on the right side. If you are serving soup, place the soup bowl on top of the dinner plate.
The second most important part of your table is your utensils. Your formal utensils should be different from your day-to-day ones, if your budget can afford. Your formal dining utensils should be placed with the bottoms lined up with one another. Place the large dinner fork to the left of the plate and the smaller salad fork to the left of the dinner fork. The salad plate should be placed to the left and slightly above the forks. The bread plate should go above the forks. If you have butter knives, lay these across the middle of the bread plate. The dinner knife should be placed to the right of the dinner plate with the cutting edge towards the plate. Next to it should be the small dessert spoon or fork. Some people prefer to place the dessert utensil over and parallel to the dinner plate. Either way you choose is fine.
Water goblets should be placed two inches above the knife with the wine glasses to the right of the goblets. If you are serving coffee or tea, place the cup and saucer to the right of the setting with a coffee spoon on the right side of the saucer. If all of this reading has your head spinning, a visual place setting guide would help you get a better understanding of where things go and how they are placed.
Once your table is set, you can decorate it by using crystal napkin rings, placing a centerpiece in the middle of the table or by lighting candles. Make sure the centerpiece is low enough that the view your guests have of one another is not obscured. If you are planning to use a tablecloth, remember to purchase a pad to place under it to stop it from slipping. Tablecloths should hang down a foot and a half the exception being a buffet table where the tablecloth should hang to the floor. Another important part of knowing how to set a table is the seating of your guests. If your dinner is a social one, it is important to seat the attendees accordingly. Singles should be seated near one another to encourage conversation. Placing guests who do not know one another well near each other will promote the making of new friends. If there are children attending the dinner, consider putting together a children's table. Setting it as beautifully as the adults table will be sure to make the smaller guests feel special. If the children are going to sit with the rest of the group, make sure to sit them beside their parents. In addition, as the host, it is important that you sit where you can easily slip away to the kitchen for preparation and service. Proper seating of your company will ensure that the gathering is enjoyed by all.
Knowing how to set a table is a skill all hosts need to acquire and one that the guests at any table will be sure to appreciate.