Home entertaining enjoys an uptick during the winter holidays. If you are having friends and family over for a meal, you know that it takes oh so much effort to make an event look effortless. While there is certainly much planning and work involved, we think it is so worth it in the end. Opening up your home to others and making them feel truly welcome is just about the kindest action someone can do to another.
Part of being a marvelously well-mannered host is to properly set your dining table. We love to use slow-burning beeswax candles on our dining table. Light your candles only after dusk so this means if you are dining in the afternoon, you should not have lit candles. But take heart, if the weather is such that it is overcast, rainy or otherwise dark, you may get away with using candles before dusk – and we recommend closing the drapes. We believe a little leeway is in order here – after all, if you don’t make it special, no one else will either. When using tapers on your dining table, please make sure they don't interfere with the line of sight of your guests. Scented candles should not be used around food - it's best to use fragrant candles in the powder room or entrance way.
Now onto your place settings. In show business, the term “run of show” explains how an event on a stage is going to unfold. Likewise, the place setting tells your guests the “run of show” for the meal you are serving. The table is set in such a way that it explains how many courses there will be and what to do when.
The general rule is that forks are on the left with the napkin while knives and spoons are on the right. To help you remember, think F-O-R-K is four letters just like the word “left”. K-N-I-F-E and S-P-O-O-N each have five letters just like the word “right”. The table is set so that the utensils you will use first are placed on the outer edges and you work your way in – this is the out-to-in rule. Only put out the utensils you need for the meal – never any extra. That is just confusing and not very nice.
One exception to the general rule stated above is when the table is pre-set for the dessert course. The fork and spoon are placed above the plate. The fork is place closest to the plate with its handle toward the left. The spoon rests above the fork with its handle toward the right.
The out-to-in rule applies to stemware as well, if you are pairing wine with each course. The water goblet is always on the inside, just above the water goblet, and the other glass(es) to its right.
It’s November so many are thinking of Thanksgiving. It is our favorite holiday because it’s a time of gratitude, appreciation and thanks. Resultantly, it isn’t uncommon for this meal to begin with someone saying grace. Grace is said before the start of the meal. Do not pick up your napkin to place it on your lap until after grace is said. If you are at someone’s home for Thanksgiving dinner and aren’t sure grace is going to be said, just wait a moment or two and watch the host. They lead the way. Enjoy!
Have a marvelous week!