Many of us are in the habit of eating in front of the TV. Yes, the nightly news and ‘Entertainment Tonight’ are OK once in a while, but given a choice, I would rather have a bit of candlelight and conversation.
An ordinary, simple, plain, basic meal can be turned into an occasion by just taking the time to “set” the table. The first year my husband and I were together, we ate in the dining room every single night, by candle light, no matter what I made for dinner. It was wonderful! We don’t do it that way as regularly now, but it’s special when we do.
There are a just few basic rules about setting a table.
First, the plate should be approximately one inch from the edge of the table. The forks go on the left, and the knives go on the right, with the sharp side of the knife pointed towards the plate. Water or wine glasses go just above the knife.
For a more formal setting, the bread plate goes to the left of the fork. If you have a small knife for the bread or rolls, lie it across the bread plate.
Forks and spoons for dessert are placed at a cross ways at the top of the plate.
Most people wait to put coffee cups out until after the main meal is served, but whether you do it before or after, they go to the right of the knife.
To summarize, if you’re sitting down at a formal setting, the bread plate on your left is yours, you reach for the drinking glasses on your right. If there is more than one fork and knife start from the outside and work your way in for each course.
There is nothing better than candlelight to add a bit of ambiance to a meal. Even if you are eating off paper plates with plastic cutlery, you could change the entire tone of the meal by dimming the lights and eating by candlelight. But remember, the dinner table is not the place to use scented candles. You don’t want the scent of the candle to compete with the food.
In fact, watch out for other scents. Make sure the scent from flowers is not overwhelming the room or the food. Perfumes and aftershaves are great as long as you don’t drench yourself before dinner.
Centerpieces (e.g., flower displays) should not be too high as to block the view of another dinner across the table. Talk about a conversation stopper!
Any other tips for improving a simple but elegant table setting?
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