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Setting the Scene
A perfect holiday table starts with a properly set table.
Begin setting the table by placing the dinner plates one in front of each seat. Plates can be placed on a charger (a larger decorative plate), a placemat, or directly on a tablecloth.
Folded napkins can be placed on the left of the forks, or on the center of the dinner plate, if the first course will be served after everyone is seated.
Forks go on the left of the dinner plate. Arrange in the "order of use" or how you eat each course, beginning on the outside and working in. For example, the salad or first-course fork should be outside the dinner fork. The dessert fork can be placed just above the dinner plate with the handle facing left.
The knife goes to the right of the dinner plate with the cutting edge toward the dinner plate.
Spoons are placed on the right side of the plate, on the outside of the knives. The dessert spoon goes directly above the dinner plate with the handle facing right (the dessert fork is placed directly above that).
Bread or Salad Plates
Place this on the left hand side of the place setting, above the forks, and level with the glasses on the right. If being used as a bread plate, a butter knife can be set on top of the plate with the handle facing right.
Set glasses to the right, above the knife, beginning with a water goblet or glass, then a white-wine glass, and a red-wine glass (if two wines are being served) to the left of the water glass.
Cups and Saucers
Place a cup in its saucer to the right of the knife and spoon.
Time Saving Tips:
There's more to a memorable celebration than just great food. The holidays are all about presentation, and we have some creative ideas to make your table shine. Start with these easy tips, add a creative cranberry centerpiece, some personal touches and enjoy.
Set the table the day before or the morning of your celebration.
Make sure you have all the necessary cookware, bakeware, serving pieces and silverware for your recipes. If not, borrow or buy them. Lay out serving dishes, platters and utensils ahead of time.
Check your silverware and dishes several days early to make sure everything is polished and sparkling clean.
Decide on your music selections days in advance. Choose selections that are sure to delight your guests, both old and young. Think about making a mix CD of classical, jazz or oldies selections. You can generally burn a lot of songs onto a CD, so you don't have to switch music in the middle of dinner.
If you do a buffet: Stack large dinner plates at the start of the buffet table and put the silverware and napkins at the end. This way hands are free to fill up the plates.
Use contrasting tablecloths and napkins for variety and additional colour. Or alternate napkin colours, in two complementary colours, for each guest.
Make fun napkin rings with ribbon or raffia.
Collect and arrange flowers or other centerpieces ahead of time. Check out our Cranberry Crafts for some easy ideas that add colour and pizzazz to your table. Have the kids help with the decorations or create Holiday-spirited place cards for the table.
Check out our Stress-Free tips for even more ideas.