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Setting the Table; the Do's, Don'ts and In-between

Setting the Table; the Do's, Don'ts and In-between

If you’re like me, you don’t have frequent occasion to set a formal table. Our lives have become much more casual than years ago , when formal dining was the norm. Many of us might find ourselves having a casual dinner in the kitchen nook, picnic styling outside on the warmer days, or eating take-out on the run.


But you still may find yourself inviting family for the holidays, hosting a life-event such as a birthday or anniversary, and/or you just may WANT kick it old-school with an intimate dinner party for your closest friends. On these occasions, ask yourself, do you know how to properly set the table? There are some rules, certainly; for example, the napkin is placed to the left of the plate along with the fork. The knife and spoon go to the right. If you are serving multiple courses, you want to consider an additional salad fork and dessert spoon.


For more on setting a formal table, check out these helpful sites:

Real Simple - How to Set a Table: Basic, Casual and Formal Table Settings

Martha Stewart - How to Set a Formal Dinner Table, According to Etiquette Experts

Emily Post - Proper Table Setting 101


Once you’ve got the basics down, don’t be afraid to shake it up a little! Know your “audience”. Are your guests the more formal, conservative type? You may want to stick with traditional or muted colors. Are they artistic, non-conformist types? Think outside the box. Mix and match colors and patterns. Mostly, think of your formal table as a blank canvas and build a 3 dimensional work of art with your plates, flatware, glassware and more!

Shelley Nicholson

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