The Traditional Christmas Table Setting
Setting the table is a time-honoured tradition in the holiday season. Laying a beautiful place to dine tells your family and friends that you value their company and adds that extra bit of festive flair to the occasion.
The first thing you do when laying a table is set the base in front of each seat. This will generally set the overall tone of the table. You can use woven placemats for a more casual feel, or something a bit shinier to glam everything up.
As an alternative to placemats, you can use charger plates. Also known as service plates or underplates, these can be used as a decorative base, similar to a placemat, upon which that your dining plates can be placed. Note that you do not eat off charger plates directly. If you are having a more traditional, formal gathering, the plates are usually cleared as they are used and replaced with the next piece rather than stacked. This is where charger plates come in, as they make sure the place setting is never bare.
Plates & Bowls
In more traditionally formal banquets, the plates are brought out one at a time and placed atop the charger. However, another way of laying the table is stacking the plates one on top of the next in the order they will be used. The dinner plate will always be placed in the centre of your placemat or charger. This is what you will serve your main meal onto. The other types of plates you place on your table depends on the courses you are serving and get stacked on top of one another accordingly.
- If you are having entrées, the entrée plate will get placed in the centre of the dinner plate.
- The side plate can either go in the centre of the entrée plate or to the left of the place setting.
- If you are serving a soup course, the soup bowl gets put on top of the plates.
Dessert settings are always brought out later in the meal, once the main course is finished.
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There are a few things you can do with napkins when laying your table. The simplest is to place it on the left side of your placemat or charger, folded neatly so you can put your cutlery on top of it.
Another option is putting it on top of your stacked plates. This option only really works if you do not have a soup course. You can roll the napkin and put it in a napkin ring for a simple yet elegant look. Otherwise, you can find a tutorial for napkin folding if you want to add an extra flair to your table.
An important part of laying your table is setting out the cutlery. If you put out your cutlery correctly, it makes it easier for your guests to eat, as the utensils are right under the necessary hand.
All forks go on the left-hand side of the place setting, and all knives go on the right. The soup spoon can go on the right, on the outside of the knives. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should always work from the outside in, so dinner forks and knives will generally be closest to the place setting.Dessert spoons can either be brought out with the dessert bowls if that is what you have decided to do, otherwise they can be placed horizontally along the top of the place setting with the handle pointing to the right.
When adding glasses to the place setting, always start with the water glass. This should be placed directly above the knife, and will always be the closest glass to the diner as they will be drinking more water than wine during dinner. All other glasses should be to the right of this water glass.
If you are adding a white wine and a red wine glass these should be arranged in a triangle shape, however if you are just adding one of these, it should be to the right of and slightly above the water glass.
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