Kym Douglas' Tips on Formal Place Settings

The placement of utensils is guided by the menu, the idea being that you use utensils in an "outside in" order. For the illustrated place setting here, the order of the menu is:

Appetizer: Shellfish
First Course: Soup or fruit
• Fish Course
• Entree • Salad (a) Service Plate: This large plate, also called a charger, serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course, which will be brought to the table. When the first course is cleared, the service plate remains until the plate holding the entree is served, at which point the two plates are exhcnaged. The charger may serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entree.

(b) Butter Plate: The small butter plate is placed above the forks at the left of the place setting.

(c) Dinner Fork: The largest of the forks, also called the place fork, is placed on the left of the plate. Other smaller forks for other courses are arranged to the left or right of the dinner fork, according to when they will be used.

(d) Fish Fork: If there is a fish course, this small fork is placed farthest to the left of the dinner fork because it is the first fork used.

(e) Salad Fork: If the salad is served after the entree, the small salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner fork, next to the plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the forks would be arranged (left to right): salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.

(f) Dinner Knife: The large dinner knife is placed to the right of the dinner plate.

(g) Fish Knife: The specially shaped fish knife goes to the right of the dinner knife.

(h) Salad Knife (Note: there is no salad knife in the illustration): If used, according to the above menu, it would be placed to the left of the dinner knife, next to the dinner plate. If the salad is to be served first, and fish second, then the knives would be arranged (left to right): dinner knife, fish knife, salad knife.

(i) Soup Spoon or Fruit Spoon: If soup or fruit is served as a first course, then the accompanying spoon goes to the right of the knives.

(j) Oyster Fork: If shellfish are to be served, the oyster fork goes to the right of the spoons. Note: it is the only fork ever placed on the right of the plate.

(k) Butter Knife: The small spreader is paced diagonally on top of the butter plate, handle on the right and blade down.

(l) Glasses: These can number up to five and are placed so that the smaller ones are up front. The water goblet (1a) is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right goes a champagne flute (1b); in front of these are placed a red (1c) or white (1d) wine glass and a sherry glass (1e).

(m) Napkin: The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate.

Folding Your Linenen Napkin?

  1. Spread the napkin flat on an ironing board and iron the napkin on an appropriate setting for the napkin's fabric so that it is wrinkle-free. Cotton and linen are among the easiest napkins to fold but will always need to be ironed.
  2. Spread the napkin flat on a table with the wrong side of the napkin's fabric facing you. Fold the left napkin edge vertically, ¼ of the napkin's width, toward the napkin's center. If you're concerned with precise, consistent measurements, use a ruler to measure the napkin to determine the exact place to make your folds on the napkin. Usually you can eyeball the napkin for a satisfactory fold.
  3. Fold the right napkin edge vertically, ⅓ of the napkin's width, toward the napkin's center.
  4. Fold the new left edge of the napkin (the fold) over toward the right, toward the center of the napkin, ¼ of the new napkin width.
  5. Fold the napkin in half horizontally and align the bottom of the napkin edges, forming a rectangle.
  6. Iron the folded napkin. Press gently and pay careful attention to the folds to achieve a crisp appearance.

Napkin Usage:
Rule 1: When you’re given a napkin, use it. Don’t let it sit beside your plate. It was given to you for wiping your face when you need to and to protect your lap from spills. Leaving it beside your plate marks you as a slob.

Rule 2: Wait for the host to pick up and unfold his napkin before you do the same with yours.

Rule 3: If the napkin is larger than your lap, fold it such that it just covers your lap.

Rule 4: In polite society, movements at the dinner table tend to be small, so don’t make any ostentatious displays like wildly shaking the napkin to open it. Just unfold it. And when you wipe your mouth, don’t use the napkin as you would a wash cloth during your morning shower; gently dab at your mouth.

Rule 5: Don’t wait for the food to be served before you open your napkin. Should your napkin still be sitting on the table when the food arrives, the server may have to create space to set your plate.

Rule 6: Should you have to leave the table during the meal, leave the napkin, loosely folded, on your seat or on the table to the left of your plate. Also put the loosely folded napkin to the left of your plate when you’re done eating, never on the plate.

Rule 7: The place for a napkin? In your lap. It is not tucked into your pants, nor does it belong tucked into your shirt collar. However, if you are in a milieu where that kind of behavior is acceptable, don’t be afraid to go along. For example, diners from Southern Italy (or southern New Jersey) have long known that a bowl of spaghetti topped with marinara sauce can be better enjoyed when you don’t have to worry about the red stuff splattering on your shirt. Many Italian and Italian-American diners therefore tuck the napkin into their collars as a matter of course. Feel free to do the same. Live! Enjoy!

General Rules Of Thumb?

In General:
- Work your way from the outside in (for utensils).
-Knife blades are always placed with the cutting edge toward the plate. - No more than three of any implement is ever placed on the table, except when an oyster fork is used in addition to three other forks. If more than three courses are served before dessert, then the utensil for the fourth course is brought in with the food; likewise the salad fork and knife may be brought in when the salad course is served. - Dessert spoons and forks are brought in on the dessert plate just before dessert is served. Appropriate Gifts:
- Items like chocolates, specialty gifts fruits, jams etc. are great.
- Wine is also a great gift but you must preface it with, “Thank you so much for having me at your dinner party, I brought you some wine to enjoy later.” * You never want your host/hostess to think that you don’t trust the pairings they already had planned. *This rule also applies to foods. Get additional tips from lifestyle and beauty expert Kym Douglas at Follow her @KymDouglas and like her on Facebook.