There are secrets to table etiquette that not many people are able to master completely. However, it is essential to know some basics to avoid the most common blunders.
Whether your reception is simple or formal, the art of setting the table means you ought to know the right codes. This serves not only to show off your hosting talents, but also to put your guests at ease so they know to behave according to social expectations.
When the time comes to draw your table setting, here’s what you need to know.
Arrange cutlery on either side of the plate from the outside to the inside, in the order of appearance of the dishes. If you start with a soup, the spoon will be placed on the right-hand side of the knives, the rounded side of the spoon facing upwards. The knives should have their cutting edges set inward. The forks are to be set to the left of the plate, pointing downwards. The only exceptions to this rule are the oysters and snails forks that should be placed to the right of the plate.
2. Cheese and dessert cutlery
Cheese and dessert cutlery are placed between the glass and the plate. You can also bring the cheese dish. In this case, you will ask each guest individually at the time.
3. The glasses
The glasses are lined up in order of size, the larger to the left. This is usually the water glass. Each wine glass must have a specific shape to avoid confusion and not to mix delicate flavors.
Plates are arranged one or two centimeters from the edge of the table. You’ll need a presentation plate for receiving the other plates. Never stack more than three plates (the presentation plate, a plate and a bowl) and never stack two flat plates one above the other. The presentation plate must always be larger than the actual main course plate. When it’s time to bring the cheese, remove the presentation plate and bring out a cheese plate. A small bread plate or basket can be placed at the upper left corner.
5. Napkins and tablecloths
For napkins and tablecloths, you are allowed more freedom! Provided they are clean and ironed, they can be either traditional or creative. Napkins can be folded following the complex art of origami if you wish.
6. Finishing Touches
Table decorations such as flowers, candles and other accessories should not impede the guests. Bouquets and candles must have a very discreet fragrance and be low in height. Even if these accessories are needed to brighten up your table, it is better to use them sparingly. In contrast, you can use salt shakers, decanters, or ashtrays. They are not only useful but will, more importantly, set the tone of your table decoration.