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Holiday Basics…

Requests are coming for holiday basics: decorating, managing unruly relatives, college age kids who trash the house, and pushing ourselves to the brink of exhaustion and alcoholism. One stands out every year–how to set a proper table. Always happy to oblige Dolls. Here goes.

Below is a table setting for a fete. This may not be the way you set the table for everyday, but the holidays are not ordinary dinner and your table should reflect that, non? Just in case, there’s an informal setting as well, you lazy little thing.

Let’s start with place cards shall we? Create one for each guest and give some thought to people arranging. Who is a good conversationalist and who is rather quiet? Don’t lump all the shy ones together. They’ll be uncomfortably mum and feel left out, though you won’t be able to tell as they won’t say anything.

Etiquette says to separate couples. They do see one another every day and after all these years should have mastered the art of talking to others. The host and hostess sit at either end. They can look lovingly at each other making everyone jealous of not just their fine china but their relationship as well.

Hint: Move the place cards and no one will stop the hostess from chopping off your hand. It’s that big an offense. Just don’t.

Plates are up next. Largest to smallest, stacked neatly upon each other. If you have the OCD gene, you can make sure the pattern is exactly the same on each arrangement. It’ll make you feel better. The plates go in order. Isn’t that smart? Salad first and so on as they are taken away. If there’s soup, it will be brought in; perhaps in some sort of a hollowed out squash or pumpkin. It is Thanksgiving after all.

Silver shouldn’t cause such angst. No matter how your hostess has placed it, move from the outside in. A really tiny fork is for fish so you’ll have to suffer through that. The bigger spoon is soup. The two above the plate are dessert. You may use both. Don’t spread butter with your dinner knife. That’s what the little knife placed crosswise on the tiny plate to the left is for–bread and butter.

Do not slather butter all over your bread, you troglodyte. Take some butter and transfer it to the bread plate. Break off a small piece of bread. Butter only that piece. It’s our ancestors way of keeping us from eating too much bread. If the dinner rolls are especially delish, you can run them through the softened butter after everybody leaves. We all know hostesses eat like birds in front of company. Save some stuffing for later, too. That stuff’s delicious and is best eaten right from the serving bowl with a big spoon. And some gravy.

The glasses? Don’t fret little one. The biggest one is for water. It’s probably already filled when you sit. Next over and a little diagonal is the red wine glass. It’s a little bigger and rounder than the other wine glass. The thinner one is white wine. A flute means there’s champagne. Yummy. And a tiny cutie patootie glass means there’s probably port with dessert. Could this dinner get any better?

Only if you remember to have fun. With that much wine, no one will notice if you make a mistake. Oh, BTW, that napkin? It goes in your lap, not tucked in your shirt no matter how much turkey there is. You’re welcome.

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