Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

Table Setting 101: Casual to Fine Dining

October 5th, 2013 by Michelle Rooks

1) The Vermont Tavern Table says “Family”   2) The Cherry Moon Dining Table—for having friends over   3) The Vermont-Made Shaker Dining Table: perfect for a formal dinner party

I’m about to out myself as an old-timer. When I was in Junior High most girls took a class called Home Economics. We learned cooking and sewing skills and actually got tested on the proper way to set a table. I have never forgotten the basics of casual dining place setting: Fork on the napkin to the left of the plate, knife and spoon to the right of the plate, with the knife closest and its blade facing the plate. A drinking glass would be above and to the right of the dinner plate. I admit I don’t often practice these skills. In our house we pretty much grab a handful of knives and forks and divvy them up at the table. I picture the Vermont Tavern Table as the perfect place for the family to gather and talk about their day.

If you want to invite a couple of friends to join you for dinner, you may want to kick it up a notch. That brings us to the informal place setting. In addition to the items found in casual dining place setting you may find a bread plate, an additional glass, a salad fork, and possibly a soup spoon. I think the Cherry Moon dining table would be the just the thing for a gathering of close friends.

For a more formal gathering, place setting can be much more involved. There are water and wine glasses and, for truly elegant dinner parties, enough silverware to ready a small army. These can include fish, dinner, salad, cake and cocktail forks, dinner and butter knives, teaspoon, soup and dessert spoons. Add to all of that a charger (a decorative plate slightly larger than a dinner plate), dinner, salad and bread plates and you’re going to need a lot of real estate to hold it all. My choice would be the Vermont-Made Shaker with a boat top. It just gives a vibe of elegance to me.

Place setting has become a bit of an art form. While there are “standard” placements for items, these days you can be much more creative. Add a favor for each guest, create your own napkin rings and place cards or learn napkin folding techniques. Add different levels of candles and some flowers, gourds, or other seasonal items to make an aesthetically pleasing centerpiece. Your table should be a reflection of your own style.

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