Informal or Formal?

Setting a casual table can be fun. You get to mix, match, and coordinate color schemes, table linens, china, glassware and accessories. Think about specific themes, and then select place-mats and napkins to match the mood. Experiment with colors, patterns, textures; pair them in unusual combinations.

Use casual china, stoneware or earthenware. Center the dinner plate at each place setting with the salad plate to the left of the dinner plate, and the water and wine glasses above and to the right of the dinner knife.

Place the dinner fork and folded napkin at the left of the dinner plate, as in the formal setting. If a bread and butter plate is used, it should be placed above the fork and napkin.

A place for everything and everything in its place is the etiquette you must follow when creating a formal table setting. This illustration shows you just where and how to place each piece of flatware, china and crystal on your table.

First select your table linens. Formal tables are often set with linen, cotton, damask or lace cloths, and matching napkins.

Next, center a dinner plate at each place setting and set either a salad plate or soup bowl (depending upon the course being served) upon it. Place the bread and butter plate (with the spreader placed horizontally across it) to the left and slightly above the dinner plate.

Cups, saucers, dessert plates and teaspoons are brought to the table at the completion of the meal.

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