Table Settings

 

Place Setting

 


A beautifully set table will enhance your meal and make your food look more appetizing.  For everyday meals, you will need a plate, a glass for a drink, flatware, and a napkin for each person.  If you have enough matching place settings for everyone at the table, use them.  Otherwise, you can mix and match if necessary.  I recommend having at least 12 place settings of flatware, china and glasses, even if there are just 2 of you.  If you have less, you will have to wash them before the dishwasher is full just so you will have enough for each meal, particularly flatware.  I often use my plates and flatware when cooking for prep work, as they are easily washed in the dishwasher, so I like to have plenty on hand. 


If you only have one set of dishes, then you need something that will look good with all kinds of food.  A basic white set is versatile and goes with everything although it can be a little boring.  You can add color with the food, garnishes, napkins and table decor and jazz it up.  Many people have an everyday set of dishes and a formal set, although this does not seem as common as it was in the past.  If you have both, enjoy them and try to use the formal set more than once or twice a year!


Many everyday dishes come in sets, with limited availability of extra pieces. The 16-piece sets usually have a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl and mug.   Often a serving set is available which has a platter, serving dish, creamer and sugar bowl.  I find these kind of sets rather limiting, as you only have 1 size bowl which will have to accommodate everything from soup to puddings to salads.  Of course you can add other size bowls in glass or coordinating patterns.
Some dishes are sold individually with many different pieces available such as Villeroy and Boch French Garden china.  This china has numerous pieces available, even egg cups and cream soup bowls, so you can have as many different pieces as your available budget and storage space can handle!


The most common flatware today is stainless steel.  It is durable, inexpensive and dishwasher safe.  It is important to purchase the best quality flatware that you can afford.  Read reviews on websites such as Amazon to see if other people have had problems with rusting, poor quality, etc.  Currently, most flatware is made in China and is not as good of quality as some of the flatware made in the USA in the past.  As with dishes, flatware is often sold in sets with limited or no availability of extra pieces such as iced tea spoons, seafood forks, butter spreaders, etc.  Generally a set of flatware has a knife, dinner fork, salad fork, teaspoon and soup spoon for each place setting.


Glassware comes in sets but can be bought by the piece in some patterns.  The materials are usually glass or crystal, with crystal being the more expensive option.  Unless you like to hand wash glasses, be sure that your glassware is dishwasher safe!  Some pieces are too fragile for dishwashers even if they are labelled as such, so watch out for very thin stems and delicate rims on glassware.


Your menu will determine how the table should be set.  If you are having an everyday meal of meat, vegetables, etc., you will need a dinner plate, a dinner fork, a teaspoon, a glass for water and a napkin.  The napkin can be either paper or cloth.  A pretty placemat or tablecloth is placed on the table first.  These can be skipped if necessary.  The plate is placed in front of the place where each person will sit.  It is centered and the bottom edge is about 1 inch from the edge of the table.  If there is a pattern that is directional, line the plate up accordingly.  The knife is placed on the right of the blade with the blade facing in.  If you had a very sharp blade, it makes sense that the blade would be placed toward the plate so that the person picking it up would not grab the sharp edge.  If you remember this fact, you will always remember how to place the knife.  The spoon is then placed to the right of the knife.  The bottoms of each piece are lined up with the bottom of the plate.  The dinner fork is placed on the left of the plate with the bottom of the fork lined up with the bottom of the plate.  The glass is placed at the top of the knife.  The napkin is placed to the left of the fork, with the fold farthest from the plate.  The reason for this is that the napkin is easier to pick up and unfold if the corner you will pick up is closest to the plate.  If you are having a salad and want to use the salad fork, it is placed on the left of the dinner fork and the napkin is placed to the left of the salad fork.

 

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