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It can be easy – but first thing you will need to remember is that setting your table is almost is important as preparing and displaying your food. Paying attention to how you do it and remembering little details will make your holiday meal even more special!
If you are wondering what tablecloth to use, or if you should use placemats instead, or where to put the cutlery , if you should consider setting a buffet-style table and what to do about kids… here are some tips for you that will help:
1. Table Covers: If you have a beautiful table, you may want to consider using placemats. If you feel more comfortable using tablecloth, then start there. The rule in using the tablecloth is that it should be big enough to hang about 6 inches over the edges of the table. White tablecloth are the easiest to start with and make for festive feel – patterned tablecloths have a tendency to make the table look more cluttered. Little tip: if you find that your chosen tablecloth is wrinkled and creased – throw it into a dryer on air setting with a damp towel – that should take care of it, without having to pull out your iron.
2. Cutlery: Forks go on the left, spoons and knives on the right and they need to be placed in the order they will be used – first utensil on the far end from the plate, second one closer to the plate, etc. And the knife blade should be turned towards the plate.
3. China: Side plates or bread plates go to the left of the main plate setting. If you are serving a salad, you can place the salad bowl either on top of the dinner plate or the side plate.
4. Glasses: Wine glass goes above the tip of the main course knife. If you are using more than one glass, arrange them in the order they will be used. Liqueur glasses don’t belong into your main setting – bring them out separately after clearing your dinner dishes.
5. Napkins: If you know how to make a pretty fancy fold, use it to decorate the table by putting it on the top of the main plate. If you are using it flat, place it on the side plate or under knife and spoon.
6. Place Cards: These a great idea if you are having a large gathering – having them will avoid awkward moments when your guests are seating themselves. Place Cards are easy to make – you can make simple ones by just folding an unlined recipe card in half and writing names on in calligraphy.
7. Buffet Style: This is a good option for a larger gathering when you need to have your guests take up whatever seating is available. Let’s face it – not everyone has a table large enough to accommodate more than 12 people. When setting up your buffet, place plates, cutlery and napkins close to each other at one side of the table. I like to put cutlery into a neat little package, wrapped in the napkin and decoratively tied with a ribbon or a piece of craft twine. If you can, use larger plates – I prefer 12 inch size, that allows guests to pile on the food and not have to keep returning to the serving table as often. You will need to “police” your buffet table, refill serving dishes and keep it nice and neat. There is another alternative – kind of half buffet and half seated arrangement. Set up your serving dishes in the kitchen, have your guests serve themselves and then seat at the table. That allows the dinner table for being cluttered with serving dishes.
8. The Kid’s Table: It is definitely a good idea to set up kid’s table – and you can make it fun for them as well! Use bright paper or plastic tablecloth and its is perfectly fine to use plastic plates. Another great idea is to put a plain white tablecloth you can purchase at a second hand store and provide kids with markers to draw on it. You may even want to save these works of art for years to come and reminisce with then the grown up “kids” . Alternative to this would be paper placemats and crayons or activity book for each child.
9.Dessert Table: If you have an alternative table – such as one in the kitchen dining area, set up desserts, coffee and tea there. You can serve it in the dining room, after dinner dishes are served, but I find that separate setting works well, especially if you are serving a choice of desserts.
10.After Dinner Liqueurs: You can pick several types of liqueurs to serve – I like to create a tray (round silver one with a paper doilie works well) separate it into four sections, place show glasses filled with different liqueurs on with a little place card with liqueur name next to the each group of glasses and place it on the dining room table or walk around the guest with the offer.
Here are some creative place setting ideas for you:
Hope this information was helpful to you – please send in your comments, suggestions and experiences – your input is always welcomed and appreciated!