FORGETFUL GENTLEMAN [fer-get-fuhl jen-tl-muhn] n. a classy, sophisticated, modern man whose busy lifestyle often interferes with his well intentioned plans

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Setting the Table: A Life Skill

The modern gentleman plays an active role in all aspects of hosting a dinner party. Even if you aren’t as skilled as Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey in the kitchen, you should help out in other ways such as setting the table for dinner.

Here’s how to set the table.

  1. How many people will be in attendance? If there are children coming, consider a separate children’s table.
  2. Where do you want everyone to sit? Consider a few matters of convenience such as the cook sitting near the kitchen door, parents sitting next to children, or which people would interact best with others. There are also matters of tradition to consider, such as a male guest traditionally being seated on the hostess’s right, and a female guest traditionally being seated at the host’s right. Often times people alternate between men and women, but this is no longer necessary.
  3. Do I use a tablecloth? It’s entirely up to the host, and depends what type of food you are serving and mood you hope to create. If you choose to use a table cloth, remember to have the middle crease run straight down the center of the table and it should hang about 18 inches off the table. If it’s a buffet dinner, it should hang to the floor.
  4. Where do I position the plates, glasses and utensils? Use the picture below to guide you:

A few things to remember:

  • Fold the napkins and place them in either the center of each diner’s place, under the forks on the left, in an empty water glass.
  • Place the large dinner fork to the left and the smaller salad for to the left of the dinner fork.
  • Place a knife to the right of the napkin, with the cutting edge toward the plate. This is an old custom to prevent aggressive behavior at the dinner table.

When do I begin clearing the table? When the last person if finished eating, you may begin to clear the plates. When the diner has finished, he/she signals this by setting the fork and knife parallel to each other, so they lie either horizontally across the plate or on the diagnol at approximately 3:30.

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