How about making your dinner table the talk of the evening, the next time you host a lunch or a dinner at home? Samsaam M. Ansari gives you a few valuable tips on how to lay the table impressively.... Table is more than a place where you eat food. It is the place where you entertain your guests; it is a place where your family sits together, laughs together, and of course, eats together. It's over table that you discuss all topics from office hassles, to politics, to movies - literally anything. Therefore, it's essential to set the table in a way that it complements its purpose as well as the mood.
Laying a table is an art in itself. Though there are certain rules for laying a table, it gives room for one's own imagination in terms of table decoration, lighting ambience etc.
B>However, before you start laying the table do the following checklist:
There are different types of table setting - Formal table setting, informal table setting and setting a buffet.
- Seating order is the first step. The seating order will determine the position of the dinnerware.
- Ensure the dinnerware to be used is clean.
- Choose an appropriate table linen Vary the table linen- fabrics and colours - to suit the mood and occasion.
- Have a good look around. Ensure the room is spick and span and it exudes a good ambience for a pleasure-filled dinner.
Here are a few basic guidelines to remember while setting a table
1. When setting a table, designate each plate- using either the dinner plate, the place plate, or a napkin.
(Note, in a formal table setting, the plate determines the position of the silverware that will be used for the main course.)
2. If a place plate is used, it serves as the perfect place for the napkin. Your napkins can make or break an impression. Take care that napkins are neat. Napkins are most often selected to match the tablecloth or mats, but a contrasting colour and texture can sometimes make a setting come to life.
3. Place the bread/roll plate. With the butter knife (knife-edge to the outside) on top of it, to the left of the place plate.
4. The basic minimum flatware required include six pieces, which is a knife, fork, teaspoon, soupspoon, salad fork and butter knife or spreader. The dinner knife is placed on the right side with the edge to the inside, the fork is on the left. Again, place the silverware in relation to either to the place plate or to the dinner plate.
5. If soup is served, place the soupspoon to the outside of the dinner knife, on the right.
6. Place the silverware for dessert above the plate. The fork handle should point to the left, the spoon handle to the right.
(Note: All forks are placed on the left of the plate. All knives and spoons are to be on the right of the plate except the butter knife or spreader, which is placed on the bread/roll plate)
8. The salt and pepper holders go at the top of the service plate but generally speaking, one set between each plate is enough. Candles add charm and elegance and it is best to light the candles just before everyone is seated for dinner.
9. Decorations are the most important parts of table setting and need creative ability. Fresh flowers are the first choice of most hostesses. Well-selected artificial, silk, cotton or plastic flowers, fruits, vegetables and ceramic pieces will also look attractive as centrepieces.
The stemware is positioned after everything else, including the napkins, is in place. Position the glasses so that the guest will be able to reach each without having to manoeuvre around any of the other glasses at his place. Put no more than four glasses next to each setting. When three glasses are used they are usually placed in a triangle for formal table settings. Glasses are usually crystal. For an informal setting a water glass in the form of a stemmed goblet should do.
In a formal setting take care that flatware, the tablecloth, napkins and glassware match. White candles are appropriate for formal occasions. Place at least a pair of salt and pepper shakers for every two guests. Bread and butter knives are omitted.