September 1, 2010

Lenox China Place-Setting Etiquette

(Reposted from Lenox-China.Net)

We all know some of the fundamentals of place setting. We know that forks and spoons are not placed together. We know the glass goes as far away from the edge as possible. We know that when sitting down to a formal dinner, you start with the inner forks and work your way out. Or is it that you start from the outside and work your way in? Okay, we know if there is more than one fork, you need to run away.

No, no. Sit back down. Setting the table—even for a formal affair—does not have to be nightmare-inducing. Let’s go over some basics first. To start, use light-colored tablecloths (with the emphasis on ‘cloth,’ as you should not use a plastic tablecloth in a formal setting; Lenox china and plastic do not mix) and keep any tabletop d├ęcor simple. If you use a flower arrangement, make sure it is not so tall that guests sitting across from one another cannot make eye contact.

That wasn’t so bad, was it? Okay, now let’s go over flatware. The first thing you do is draw a line down the middle of the plate (an imaginary line, preferably). Knives, spoons, and glasses will go to the right of the line; forks, a napkin, and the bread plate (with a butter knife placed upon it slightly diagonally, from upper-left to lower-right) will go on the left. Here is a tip to remember this: five-lettered words like knife, spoon, and glass go on the right; a four-lettered word like fork goes on the left. The knife is placed closest to the plate, with the spoon on its right. When setting knives on the table, the cutting edge should point towards the plate. The forks are placed with the service fork (what you use to eat the main course) just to the left of the plate, with the salad fork to the left of that. Work from the outside in. If your first course is salad, the fork on the far left should reflect that. Dessert utensils should be brought out with the dessert…not set down before the meal.

Moving onto the glassware, place the water glass above the tip of the knife. If you are serving other drinks, lay out the subsequent glasses to the right and diagonally behind the first. If you are serving coffee or tea, place the cup and saucer (and accompanying spoon) to the right of the spoons. If you are serving wine, make sure you are using the proper glass (yes, there is a difference!).

Finally, here are some additional tips to keep in mind when setting your Lenox china. While it may look fancier, don’t put the napkin in the water or wine glasses; rather, fold them neatly and place them to the left of the forks. When it’s time to eat, unfold your napkin and lay it across your lap. If you have bread, break it apart, rather than cutting it. Last of all, when you are finished eating, place your knife and fork in the center of your plate, side by side.

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