Setting Your Holiday Table

Setting Your Holiday Table

There is nothing more delightful for your dinner guests than setting your holiday table to reflect your family’s tradition and create a celebratory environment. Not only does it make your table aesthetically pleasing, but it also sets the tone of the occasion.

The table setting is like a map. It contains information about the meal and will have the utensils you need to enjoy it. If you are to have a family-style meal, most likely there will be fewer utensils. If you are having a coursed meal, you will have more utensils because when the dishes are cleared after each course, the dining utensils are picked up, too.

Place Setting Memory Tips

With so many moving pieces to contend with, setting your holiday table can be confusing if it’s not something you do regularly. Following are acronyms that may be helpful when memorizing what goes where in a table setting.

  • When you read your place setting from left to right, you see BMW - Bread, Meal, Water.

  • The acronym FOrKS helps you remember that: The Fork is on the left, O is for the plate in the center, then comes the Knife, and Spoon on the right.

  • The fingers on your left hand form a 'b' and the fingers on your right hand form a 'd' to remind you that the bread is on your left, and your drink is on your right.

General Table Setting Guidelines

  1. Utensils are placed in order of use from the outside in.

  2. Knives (except for the butter knife) are placed to the right of the plate. Knife blades always face towards the plate. (Blades directed outward towards other diners signal unfriendly intentions.)

  3. Forks are placed on the left side of the plate.

  4. The dessert utensils are placed above the main plate as the map indicates. If the dinner is family style, dessert utensils are often brought to the table when dessert is served.

  5. The bread plate is on the left side of your main plate, and glasses are on the right side.

  6. The water glass/goblet always goes above the knives. Beverages are placed to the right of the water goblet including wine glasses.

  7. Bread is not considered a course, and if served, is placed on the bread plate with a butter knife.

  8. A beverage is not considered a course, but certain wines may be served to match certain courses.

  9. Napkins are placed to the left of the forks or on the service plate.

  10. Only place utensils to be used. For example, if you are serving ice cream for dessert, only the dessert spoon is necessary. You do not need to place a dessert fork as well.

Setting your holiday table, like your everyday table, is only as complicated as you wish it to be. The place settings are set according to the menu and centerpieces and other decorations can be as casual or elaborate as you like. There is definitely an advantage to keeping it simple, so planning ahead will be helpful.

The most important thing to remember is the reason you are hosting a holiday meal in the first place. Then create a holiday setting that brings your friends and family together to make special memories.

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