Oh S#!* the In-Laws are Coming for Christmas Dinner
Table setting tips for stressful, and not so stressful, situations
The fancy folks in your life have decided that THIS is the year that you will put those 240-odd pieces of china, silver, and crystal that you HAD to register for/inherited to use, and by God, you’d better not screw it up.
First, take a deep breath and repeat after me, “we only set for what we will serve”. Once your menu is set, you’ll be able to devise the pieces that you need. Second, and I bet you’ve heard this before, when in doubt, start from the outside and work your way in. Your first course will use the utensils furthest from the center, and those utensils will be cleared with each course, as you work your way to the center.
Let’s move on to the china. First, we begin with a charger, a large, usually decorative, plate from which you never actually eat. Then, pictured here, we have a salad or luncheon plate which supports the soup bowl. Here, we have the napkin folded under the soup bowl, because we found it aesthetically pleasing. It could also be under the forks, under the charger draped half off the table or folded into the shape of the tower of Pisa. Wherever and however it suits you to display your napkin, please use a cloth one when setting a formal table, and PLEASE for goodness sake lay it in your lap as quickly as possible after sitting for the meal.
You’ll use the salad plate as a tray to clear the soup bowl (and spoon!) after the first course which at this meal we’re assuming was a lovely butternut squash soup. You’ll then serve the salad on clean plates from the kitchen (what? You don’t have two sets of salad plates? No worries, give those a quick rinse and I won’t rat you out to the health department).
Clear the salad plate (and requisite fork) once your guests are ready for the entrée. Entrées should be served on dinner plates and set on that lovely charger.
Now, given your guests are still conscious after this many courses, dessert may be served on a smaller plate that you’ve been keeping hidden in the kitchen all this time. Then, maybe a light sorbet, eaten with the dessert spoon, will melt down around the edges as your guests roll into the living room for a snooze.
Your guests will be well lubricated, no?
What else, what else… oh yes, the Bread Plate and Bread Knife. The blade of the Bread Knife should face your neighbor (in case unruly dinner companions need to be slathered in butter).
Hooray the family’s flight got cancelled so you can have your friends over instead! Tips for setting a casual holiday table. Also great for Sunday suppers, or anytime that dinner isn’t on the couch re-watching Game of Thrones, waiting impatiently for the final season.
A few tips here. First, when setting the table, make a “b” and a “d” shape with your hands. Your bread plate and forks go on the “b” side while your drink and teaspoon (and knife, but hopefully you don’t use a knife with liquids because that kind of blows the theory) go on the “d” side. Second, when you have a roll or bread, you should tear, not cut it, and only butter one piece at a time as you’re ready to enjoy. Third, lay your napkin in your lap as soon as you sit down. If you must get up during the meal, leave your napkin in your chair. Fourth, pass family style dishes of food clockwise around the table. Finally, serve your favorite wine and enjoy your time with your friends and family.
China – PLENTY Mercantile Silver, crystal and linen – private collection Florals – Juniper Designs
Dishes and flatware – private collection Linen and glassware – PLENTY Mercantile Florals – Juniper Designs
Lindsay Gibson is an Event Designer from Oklahoma City. She was forced to attend many, many formal banquets growing up as a member of the Children of the American Revolution.