Proper dining table setting may seem all too complicated to many, but it need not be so. Actually, etiquette guidelines for table setting are based on common sense. Items are placed on the dining table for the convenience of those who will be participating in the meal.
Sure, people eat picnics, pizza, sandwiches, and snack-type meals with their hands. In certain countries, folks even dine that way every day. But throughout most of the world, eating utensils and dishes are the norm, and certain traditional rules of etiquette define how these items are placed on the dining table.
Essentially, the rule of thumb for table setting is fairly simple.
In a multi-course meal, the diner generally uses the outside pieces first. As each new course is served, the guest or host works his or her way towards the center of the place setting. That means the salad fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork, for example.
Cloth or paper napkins and place cards may be placed on top of the plate, or atop the charger in a more formal setting.
Zip through the photo slideshow included with this article to view examples of proper table settings, ranging from extremely casual to the most formal. You might even choose to bookmark this page for future reference, so you can take another look before your next dinner party or holiday gathering.
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