BY JENNIFER ADAMS
IF THERE’S ONE thing
I look forward to during
the holidays, it’s setting
the table. I probably
have more fun setting
the table and arranging
the decorations than I
do cooking. Putting
together a simple table
creates a more welcoming atmosphere; I have
fun gathering items from the yard or around
the house to bring it all to life.
Here are some additional tips to help
you set your table.
Why so many dishes? It all started with
the extremely formal tradition of a multiple-course meal served to guests in a particular
order—generally, soup, salad, entrée, dessert—one course at a time. As each course is
finished, those dishes are cleared, leaving the
perfect setup for the next course. Dessert
dishes are usually not on the table during the
meal, but the utensils and coffee cups are.
These days, our tables are smaller and
we have less desire and space to store so
many dishes. As meals became less formal,
the rules loosened for most of us.
Work your way from the outside in.
Think about the order in which the food
courses are served. For example, the salad
course is before the entrée, so the salad plate
is on top of the larger plate and the salad
fork is farthest to the left. For the next
courses, continue with the
forks from left to right, work-
ing toward the plate.
Place the wineglass on the
far right. If you’re serving a different wine with each course,
line up the appropriate glasses in
order, from right to left, ending
with a water glass.
Forks on the left, knives and
spoons on the right. This stems from
European tradition: There, people hold the
fork in their left hand and the knife in their
right throughout the entire meal. Most
Europeans don’t switch the fork from their
left hand to their right once they cut a piece of
food. And even if the food is not meat, they
use the knife in their right hand to push the
food onto the fork.
Oh yes … napkins and name cards.
Center napkins on the top plate or to the left
of the forks, depending on the arrangement.
Name cards, if you’re using them, are centered above the plates or on top of the napkin.
Set out only utensils and dishes that
you’ll use. These days, less is more. Reduce
your need for cleanup and save space.
A little secret. Even I can’t keep all of
this straight, so I taped a classic table settings
chart to the inside of one of my kitchen cabinets for easy reference. But feel free to bend
the rules, depending on what you’re serving
or what your guests are accustomed to.
If you’re a guest and can’t remember
which bread plate is yours or what glass to
drink from, make an “OK” sign with both
hands under the table. Those signs will look
like a small “b” and “d.” It’s easy to remember: The “b” is for bread, on the left, and “d”
is for drinks, on the right.
Most important of all, relax and have fun.
No one will ever notice if it’s not perfect. C
Jennifer Adams (askjennifer@jennifer
adams.com) is a nationally syndicated interior design expert. A variety of Jennifer
Adams Home products are available on
Costco.com and rotate in Costco warehouses.
HERE ARE A few décor tips you might
Who says all the place settings
have to match? If you don’t have
enough matching dinnerware, alternate
the dishes you do have at each seat (or
borrow an extra set). Play with layering
plain colored dishes with fun patterns
or brighter colors. If you have the budget and storage space, spring for a second set of dishes; an ivory set adds
warmth to your table.
Have fun with table runners.
They’re a fun alternative to tablecloths,
and an easy way to add seasonal color
to an all-white tablecloth.
Collect silver, gold and clear
sparkly accessories. Classic metallic
touches will make any occasion a little
more festive. Match the color or finish
for a unified feel.
Accent with woody herbs or
other plants. For a natural farm-table
feel, make bouquets or mini-wreaths
out of rosemary, thyme, sage, pine
twigs or flowers from your yard for each
place setting. Or tie a sprig to the napkins with twine instead of using a ring.
Light it up! For easy centerpieces,
arrange various-sized candles in the
same color, add glowing vintage mar-quee-style sign letters or display glass
vases and bottles loaded with battery-operated LED strings.—JA
in its place
Setting the table for
Holiday table décor
to span the season
FOR YOUR TABLE
Informal table setting
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
This Mikasa 65-piece ;atware set (Item
#823562) and 36-piece Bone China Dinnerware set (Item #941114) are available
at Costco and on Costco.com. The Mikasa
wine stems (Item #1104465) and tumblers
(Item #1104625) are only on Costco.com.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to watch additional table
setting tips from Jennifer Adams.
(See page 14 for details.)