Saturday, April 3, 2010

Table Settings 101

For a formal luncheon, the table is set much as for dinner with a few exceptions. The presence of an iced teaspoon and iced beverage glass announce a daytime event. The lack of candlesticks, too, is appropriate for a daylight meal.

Stemware is limited to a water goblet and a wine goblet. Old etiquette books dictated that the flatware should align at the bottom of the handle. Looser customs now allow you to arrange them in a graceful angles.

Tablecloth:Sferra, Gracious Home
Napkin: Private collection
Flatware:Vera Wang, Waterford/Wedgwood
Fish fork, iced teaspoon: Private Collection

The primary difference between a formal luncheon and formal dinner setting is the increased number of glasses for red wine and champagne. Notice the glasses are arranged over the knife in the order in which they are to be used: water, white wine, red wine, champagne. Also, the fish fork moves to the left of the plate. Candlesticks may be present on the table since the candles will be lit. The coffee cups and spoons will all be brought to the table after dinner, when coffee is served. Place cards reinforce the fact that this is a well-planned, organized event.

Tablecloth: Sferra, Gracious Home
Napkin: Private collection
Flatware:Vera Wang, Waterford/Wedgwood
Fish fork: Private Collection

When company comes, it's nice to set the table for a proper breakfast. You won't need a salad fork, but if you're serving a hot cereal like oatmeal, you may want a place spoon. You can also put the teaspoon on the table in this instance, since coffee will be served from the beginning of the meal. A juice glass is the only necessary stemware, although you may want to serve ice water, in which case you could add a water goblet.

Flatware:Pottery Barn
Place mat:Pottery Barn
Glass: ESD
Vase: Private collection
Napkin: Private Collection

For a casual lunch, feel free to use heavier dinnerware, like these simple ceramic plates. Provide glasses for whatever beverage you plan to serve. The coffee cup may be set on the table rather than passed after the meal. There are no candlesticks on a lunch table, since you don't use them when you're not lighting the candles, which you wouldn’t be in the daytime.

Table: Myrtle
Place mat:Pottery Barn
Plate and mug:Pottery Barn
Flatware:Pottery Barn
Glasses:Pottery Barn
Napkin: Gracious Home, Find Similar at Table Matters
Salt & pepper:Table Matters
Flower container:Pottery Barn

A casual dinner calls for less formal china and stemware, and stainless steel flatware is fitting for the relaxed setting. Here, the formality of a mahogany dining table is softened with a bamboo place mat. The salad fork is omitted, but dessert flatware does lie in its usual place above the plate. To remember which way these face, imagine them “driving up” from their customary places to the left and the right of the plate, and “parking” in the direction they’re facing.

Placemat: Gracious Home, Find Similar at Amazon
Flatware:Pottery Barn
China: Lesesne, Find Similar at Gracious Home
Candlesticks: Lesesne, Find Similar at Gracious Home
Vase: Lesesne, Find Similar at Gracious Home
Salt & Pepper:Pottery Barn
Glasses:Pottery Barn

When you're serving soup as a main course, perhaps for an intimate dinner by the fire, you can simplify the setting. But simple needn't mean boring, as this non-traditional setting demonstrates. Square china provides a twist on the traditional soup plate, and a wine glass with a square off bowl echoes the geometry of the china. A soup spoon, often called a place spoon in etiquette books, and a salad fork are all that is needed for a meal of soup, salad, and bread, the perfect winter meal.

China:Pottery Barn
Place mat:Gracious Home
Fabric:Lee Jofa
Flatware:Gracious Home
Glass:Pottery Barn
Basket containers:Charlotte Moss
via My Home Ideas

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