Place Setting Etiquette

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In this modern, technological age, basic etiquette can feel outdated and stuffy. Following a few simple rules for dining, however, and passing them on to your family, can go a long way in instilling a little etiquette to your everyday life. Set your table properly at your meals and teach your children how to use the settings properly to ensure a lifetime of etiquette.


Preparation

Involve your children in the table setting. This is a timely activity while you are finishing the meal and prepping the last of the food. Help them learn and remember where each item should be placed, based on how it is used. Showering them with praise when they get it right and carefully instructing them when they don’t will highlight the importance.

Basic Elements

Plates are the foundation of your table setting. You may choose a charger to sit under your plates for more formal events. Center the main plate in front of each seat, near the rim of the table so the guest need not lean over the meal. If you will be serving bread and butter, place a small plate on the upper left, above the dinner plate.

Silverware

Utensils can be one of the most overwhelming parts of a meal, but if you consider their use, the setting becomes simple. Forks go on the left with the prongs toward the middle of the table. Knives go on the right and spoons go the right of the knives. Everything should point up. Turn the blade of the knife toward the plate.

Glasses

Show your children how to fill glasses that are both generous and delicate. If you fill a glass to the rim, your guest is likely to spill. Water glasses may be two-thirds full, while wine glasses may be only one-third to one-half full. Use glasses designed for each drink to make drinking and enjoying better.

Time Line

Consider the flow of the meal when designing your place settings. Put forks that will be used first on the far left and move in toward the plate for forks used through the rest of the meal. For instance, you may have a salad fork on the far left, then a dinner fork. The same should be for the drinks. Put dessert drinks, such as champagne, on the right of the line of drinks. Put water on the left to be accessible first.

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