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Arrangement of cutlery & dishes (place settings)

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Is there a section here on how to arrange dishes & cutlery on the table when you are having a brief meal not according to the usual salad-soup-entree etc etc menu?  Tks. If there is such a discussion, I have not been able to find it. 

post #2 of 12

I can't recall of any recent discussions about it.  By "brief meal" do you mean informal everyday dining?  How exactly do you plan to serve, family style or buffet or plated?  It all depends on what you're serving and who you're serving.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #3 of 12

Fork(s) left, plate center, knife right, and spoon(s) to the right of the knife.  Napkin beneath the fork, or folded so it can stand, and placed on the plate. 

 

If the setting is very casual, all of the silver can be rolled in a napkin and placed to the right of the plate or on it.  Chopsticks and chopstick stands to the right.  Another causal setting is to place the silverware (and/or sticks) in some sort of holder and place it in the center of the table where diners may help themselves.  Napkins, especially paper napkins, may also be self-serve for a casual meal.

 

A formal rule is that a plate must always be down... even if it's a "charger."  That's not true with informal settings.  You may invite your guests may sit down to a bare setting without plates.  Nice to do that with place mats, instead of a cloth or a bare table.  Just sayin'.

 

Water glass, top left; wine glass(es) top right.  If only using one glass... top right.

 

Bread and butter plate (if using) to the upper left, above the fork, but not as high as the water glass.  The butter knife should be placed on the bread and butter plate.

 

Dessert silverware, should be placed above the plate -- with the long axis parallel and not pointed at the diner.

 

This type of table setting is appropriate and "correct," whether casual or formal. 

 

Hope this helps,

BDL

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks to both of you for your contributions.

 

1.  This isn't everyday-at-home-immediate-family-only gathering.  It is during the Christmas period and I want things to be "nice" & proper for a change. rolleyes.gif

 

2. Guests don't want a big holiday-type meal, only a sort of "snack", what we call "lunch" in our culture, which is a small meal served in mid-afternoon.  Meal will consist  of hearty soup, bread & butter, home-made pickles of various kinds and, er...that's it, except for tea/coffee/Christmas cookies & goodies served at the table.  This is the "dessert".  No spoon would be needed for the dessert.  Also, sparkling apple juice or maybe home-made kvass will be served in glasses at the table.  Looks like wine but ain't.

 

3.  My question:  If a knife is needed only for buttering bread, might it be placed where you would ordinarily place a food-cutting knife to the right of the soup bowl and its dish underneath.  I don't have a proper butter-spreader thingy so will have to use slightly smaller ordinary-type knives.

 

I thank you kindly for your advice and hope I was clear enough in describing things!

 

 

post #5 of 12

Wyandotte, I think you're obsessing over something that doesn't matter all that much.

 

I mean, let's get real: You're serving soup, with bread on the side. It doesn't get much more casual than that. Do you think any of your guests are going to even notice, let alone care, which side of the plate you put the soupspoon?

 

I suggest you settle down, set the table however it makes you comfortable, and enjoy your party.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 12
Yup, I agree with with K, although BDL did lay out the rules very nicely. When everything is said and done, the only thing that really makes a difference is that every place setting is exactly the same.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Sparkie & KYH, for replying to my post.

 

Is it "casual" because of the constituents of the meal, ie, in this case, bread & soup?  It's not a party, it is a religious- and culture-based important meal. Yes, how I set the table is important to me.

 

It never occurred to me that wanting, for the very first time in my 50-odd years, to do things properly in tablesetting, purely & solely for my own visual enjoyment, constituted "obsessing".  What an unusual diagnosis.  It is true, my guests will not notice or care, but on this one occasion, I do.   People don't notice if my underwear fits correctly and is in a state of good repair, but it makes me happy & comfy to know that it is. 

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wyandotte View Post

Thanks, Sparkie & KYH, for replying to my post.

 

Is it "casual" because of the constituents of the meal, ie, in this case, bread & soup?  It's not a party, it is a religious- and culture-based important meal. Yes, how I set the table is important to me.

 

It never occurred to me that wanting, for the very first time in my 50-odd years, to do things properly in tablesetting, purely & solely for my own visual enjoyment, constituted "obsessing".  What an unusual diagnosis.  It is true, my guests will not notice or care, but on this one occasion, I do.   People don't notice if my underwear fits correctly and is in a state of good repair, but it makes me happy & comfy to know that it is. 


Don't take it the wrong way, KYH wasn't meaning to imply that you are obsessing over something that does not matter, it's just a figure of speech.  He was just trying to encourage you not to worry too much about formalities and however you choose to serve it people will enjoy participating in your festivities :)

 

You didn't mention that it was a special occasion in your original post.  By "brief meal" I thought you meant that it was informal but I see that this means a great deal to you.  Is it possible to be formal and informal at the same time?  I'm not sure.  I think it would be lovely to serve it buffet style.  However if you want to have a very nice plate setting I would invest in some rectangular plates.  One one side of the plate put a pretty napkin with a lovely bowl on top for the soup.  Leave the rest of the plate empty so that people can serve themselves with bread and butter and pickles.  Place a fork, spoon and butter knife all on the right side on a pretty napkin.  I think it's nice to include the fork as an option, even if they don't use it.  If you don't have rectangular plates you can do the same with round plates, just place the bowl a little off to the side.

 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #9 of 12
Please don't take offense. A lot of things get lost when trying to communicate via forum posts.

Generally speaking, you want the most used pieces on the right hand side( we live in a right handed world) with the utensils to be used first set outside to inside. As you add more pieces( mostly necessary for multiple courses), the rules and exceptions becomes intensely more complicated. This certainly gives you more to fret( or obsess?) over if you truly want the " correct" formal presentation.

For me, the appearance of the set table makes a much larger impression than if you just follow the rules. Every plate 2 inches from the edge, every glass at 2:00, silverware 2.5 inches from the edge, 2 feet from the center of one place setting to the next, etc etc. Use whatever measurements look best to you/ fit in the space you have available. Every thing exactly the same down to every detail. This is what really makes the room standout whether you set for 7 courses or two.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #10 of 12

And remember, it's not always the arrangement of cutlery that people notice, it's the decorative details.  Have a few votive candles laying about, maybe a beautiful bowl of golden pine cones as the centerpiece.  Serve your bread in unique baskets, provide pretty napkins.  A bottle of sparkling water makes any table look sophisticated.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

Reply

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #11 of 12

I agree with KK

You should arrange the table how it best feels to you

For me, I like to do a dry run of the table and all the pieces that I'm thinking of using

That includes all cutlery, serving containers, table decor, everything, then I can have a good feel of how I want the table, making any adjustments well ahead of the event, and the day/night before leave it there on the table, you're done and ready for guests

Look around the house, in cupboards, use whatever you like for the table

If you feel comfortable and relaxed so will your guests and family members

But always remember to relax, take deep breath and enjoy your company

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

A month later, I thank you for your thorough and most kind contributions. (Shouldn't have waited so long.)  The "lunch" went fine, everyone loved the food and the whole day, and the table looked awful nice, if I say so myself.  The home-made, made-from-scratch tomato soup was so good.  I can't thank you enough, friends, for your suggestions & viewpoints.

 

I got lucky and found a set of old but barely-used & brand-new silver plated forks, knives & spoons at the Salvation Army Store!  For $3.95  eek.gif  The pattern is Coronation (Oneida) made in the USA.  Hot damn, these are so beautifiul compared to the made-in-Korea, bottom-of-the-line ware I have.  Golly, the table looked nice. First time in my life with genuine silver. Such a nice patina. 

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