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MAIN Arrow to Home Life Home Life Arrow to Entertaining Party Ideas Arrow to Table Settings Table Settings

Your table is the focus of any party where food is served. Depending on the occasion, the tableware and seating plan can be as important as the food you serve.

General rules of thumb for setting a table may include the same instructions when you were asked to set the table as a child: ".... fork on the left, knife on the right!" (with the blade facing inward toward the plate.)

For formal dinners, the rules remain the same, but get a bit more involved. These include where to place the water and wine glasses, the bread plate and butter knife and, later when it's time for dessert .... where does the coffee cup go?

Perhaps even more puzzling, who invented all these rules?

Historians point to the Middle Ages, when members of the royal court finally stopped eating with their hands and fingers to use forks and knives as they feasted. Although different cultures have evolved different customs, this particular setting is now considered the universal way for treating your guests like royalty:

formal table setting showing proper placement of plates, glasses, and silverware
1. napkin, 2. salad fork, 3. dinner fork, 4. bread plate, 5. bread knife, 6. dessert spoon,
7. dessert fork 8. dinner plate, 9. knife, 10. soup spoon 11. teaspoon 12. coffee cup,
13. saucer, 14. water glass, 15. wine glass

NOTE: Always observe an additional nicety by making sure that the dinner plate is set at least two inches away from the edge of the table. This is so that if any spillage occurs from the plate, it lands on the table - and not in the guest's lap!

While ultra-proper table setting isn't for everyday family meals, it's good to know the rules when having family, friends or important guests to town for special celebrations like wedding receptions, Thanksgiving dinner or the Christmas holidays.

Just up ahead, top Web resources point the way to more established table setting etiquette for casual buffets, formal holiday dinners or wedding receptions, related etiquette for seating arrangements, and more on providing the perfect setting for the best mix of merriment and relaxed conversation...

also see --> Etiquette    Wine with Turkey

More about table setting etiquette around the Web:

How to Set a Table - Basic, Casual and Formal Table Settings
- Check out this Real guide to the differences and where to place everything, with helpful photos and illustrations.

How to Arrange a Place Setting for a Formal Dinner - Find a photo, instructions & suggestions for laying out dishes, glasses & silverware plus related how to's on formal seating arrangements and more, from

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