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how to set a table; from casual to formal

Recipe by
Francine Lizotte
Surrey South, BC

It's important to know How to Set a Table depending on the occasion and formality of your party

yield 6 servings
prep time 15 Min
method No-Cook or Other

Ingredients For how to set a table; from casual to formal

  • casual
  • semi-formal
  • formal

How To Make how to set a table; from casual to formal

  • 1
    How to Set a Table for Casual setting… – Lay a placemat on the table and then the dinner plate in the middle of the placemat – Lay a napkin down to the left of the plate before placing a fork on top – To the right of the dinner plate, place a knife with the blade pointing towards the plate – this rule applies for all settings. – Next to the knife, place a spoon – The cutlery and the bottom of the plate should all be in-line – this applies for all settings as well. – The water glass is placed slightly above the plate at 1 o’clock. If a glass of wine is used then the water glass is next to it on the left.
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    How to Set a Table for a Semi-Formal setting… The set up is almost identical; the plate is in the center of the placemat, napkin on the left with fork laying on it, knife on the right with blade facing in and cutlery level with the bottom of the plate. What differentiates it is this…
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    – A tablecloth covers the table and then the placemats are laid on top of it. – If serving a salad, the salad plate is placed on the dinner plate. An additional fork is laid next to the dinner fork. – If serving a soup, the bowl is placed on the salad plate and a soup spoon is placed next to the knife. – Set only the tableware, flatware and glassware you’ll be using. If there’s no soup on the menu, don’t set a bowl and spoon. The same applies to a salad and the additional fork. – A wine glass is placed at 1 o’clock and to its left is the water glass. Always use the appropriate wine glass; if serving white, use white wine glasses and red wine glasses for red. – A bread plate (if serving bread) should be placed on the top left positioned at 11 o’clock. – A butter knife is placed across the plate horizontally, blade facing inwards with the handle pointing to the right. – Without being too fancy, I also like to include individual salt & pepper shakers. In that case, they are placed above the center of the dinner plate. – If you don’t own these, a regular salt and pepper shaker set is totally fine. Just keep in mind that if someone asks for salt, pass it along with the pepper shaker. They ALWAYS stay together and are NEVER separated. – If you want to elevate your semi-formal setting, adding a dessert fork and spoon (teaspoon) is appropriate. They are placed directly above the dinner plate pointing in opposite directions. The spoon handle points to the right while the fork handle points to the left. – If using dessert cutlery, the individual salt & pepper shakers are placed above them.
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    How to Set a Table for a Formal setting… This set up is more elaborate but is almost the same format as the semi-formal; tablecloth with placemats, forks on the left of the plate, knives on the right along with spoon, plate & cutlery in line with the bottom of the plate, glassware to the right, butter plate to the left, etc. Now here’s whats different from the previous setting.
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    – A charger plate is placed first and then the dinner plate. The flatware is level with the bottom of the plate not the charger plate. When dinner is ready, the soup course is served, placing the bowl on the dinner plate. After it’s completed and the bowl is removed, the salad plate takes center stage. The charger and dinner plate are removed after the main course is completed. Chargers are never used during dessert. – When it comes to napkins, they can be laid to the left of the plate like in the previous settings or across the plate – if a soup bowl is sitting on the salad plate, the napkin should rest on the table, not in the bowl. The napkin can be folded in a nice shape if placed on the salad plate. Napkin rings are another way to make your table prettier. They can be placed across the plate horizontally or on the side of the charger plate. – A place card is the way to go when the setting is formal. It’s placed above the dessert fork & spoon between the individual salt & pepper shakers. – The setting arrangement is different when it comes to a formal dinner. The host and hostess sit at opposite ends of the table. The couples never sit together and are placed diagonally. To the right of the hostess sits the male guest of honor while the female guest of honor sits to the right of the host. To the left of the hostess sits a male and next to him is a female and so on. There’s always male-female-male-female alternating.
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    – As the table gets busier with more tableware, glassware, and flatware, the bread plate might be positioned on the left at 10 o’clock instead of 11 o’clock. – A nice touch of elegance to add is a butter knife rest which is placed right of the bread plate. The butter knife blade is pointing towards the bread plate. If you don’t own any, simply place the butter knife on the plate as described in the semi-formal setting. – Adding individual butter dishes is a great addition. In this case, the dish is placed next to the butter knife rest or the bread plate. – Here’s a great trick to know which side to place your bread plate… Take the index finger of each hand and touch the tip of your thumb with your other fingers pointing up. The left hand forms a “b” which stands for “bread” and the right hand forms a “d” which stands for “drinks”. – When it comes to glassware, a glass of champagne is the first positioned to the right closest to the knives/spoon. It’s usually used for making a toast although it can also be placed after the wine glass to pair with dessert. – After the champagne glass comes the wine glass, either red or white. Soon, I’ll be demonstrating all the diverse glassware to use in my Bartending 101 episode so stay tuned… – Left of the wine glass is the water glass. It can also be placed behind the champagne & wine glass – Last but not least, the cordial glass is placed to the left of the water glass (or wine glass if you decide to have your water glass behind the wine glass) for a digestif like port & sherry at the end of the meal. – When it comes to decorations, keep it simple!!! Choose a centerpiece that is low so your guests don’t have to stretch their necks or lean to the side to interact with others. Also pick something appropriate for the season or theme of your dinner…
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    To view this kitchen tips & tricks on YouTube, click on this link >>>>