Table Setting & Holiday Etiquette


This basic table setting is appropriate for most occasions.The flatware is arranged around the plate in the order in which it will be used. If a salad is to be served, the salad fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork. The salad fork can be eliminated if no salad is served or placed to the dinner fork and used as a dessert fork if appropriate (the dessert fork can also be brought to the table when dessert is served). If desired, a wine glass can be added between the water glass and the coffee cup. The cup and saucer to the right is almost parallel to the tip of the soup spoon.

If you have a really huge table, the table napkin should be placed on the left next to the dinner fork and the smaller salad fork. With the folded side of the napkin facing inward. A sit down lunch or dinner is fascinating and contributes to a truly memorable meal. It is also a learning experience for everybody, young and old, but if the hostess is all alone and no one can provide assistance throughout the meal, then the other option is a buffet table which can be made elegant by using nice glass plates, flatware, and glassware and by avoiding paper plates and paper cups (a common practice in picnics and pot lucks).



The buffet table can be elegant and is more practical in a small home like ours. I learned this early on from Pottery Barn’s book -dining spaces. You  can play around with the set-up of edibles and wine, even if  you have mismatched table napkins or mismatched wine glasses. We held many Thanksgiving celebrations in our little home before I perfected the proverbial roasted turkey. We did the whole thing, turkey carving and all.

The pressure is more on the hostess after cooking up a storm, who still needs to look pretty and be the flower arranger and butler and waiter while the rest of the family members take care of the garden and housekeeping before and  after the occasion. The big lesson learned is not to copy someone else’s recipe that you haven’t at least tried many times before. I always stick to my one and only turkey recipe. Second is not to use white table napkins when serving red wine as they are hard to come off if you don’t immediately throw them in the washer. For the guests, it is reasonable to bring flowers and bubbly instead of bringing a dish that might wreak havoc upon the hostess’ setup, unless the hostess requests that you bring some dish that wil complete her meal planning.

As for kids, they sometimes break things during the party, so be kind as a child-friendly hostess (parents should also be patient with their rowdy children); don’t let a little accident ruin everybody’s chance to reconnect with family and friends. Things happen, happy holidays to all. Most grandmothers, aunties and mothers, wives and sisters who are real pros in the kitchen, this is their time to shine! Give them a big hug.

Also, if you want to learn more about proper etiquette in any situations or occasions, look into getting a copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette as your go-to book that you can consult anytime on etiquette dilemmas. And by the way, don’t be a double dipper: one chip, cracker, shrimp, or piece of fruit can be dipped only once in the bowl. Furthermore, as a guest, don’t inquire about the cost of anything.

I better stop now or I won’t be able to end this post. We all need a lot of education in proper decorum. Regardless of how technologically advanced we are in the 21st century, we still need to study correct etiquette in dealing with others face to face.

As always, I really enjoy sharing this helpful information with all of you.


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