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Episode 6082: Entertaining 101
Perfect Setting
Formal to a tee

A formal dinner party is the perfect time to let your entertaining talents shine, especially when it comes to setting the table. Here's a comprehensive run down and some great ideas for setting a table that will truly make you the master of any and all ceremonies.

Start by using a protective covering for your table. For napkins, use something special like a tone-on-tone weave. Remember to send vintage cloth to a professional afterwards; they’ll clean it and return it perfectly pressed.

A trick I learned in my waitering day is to wear white cotton gloves when handling glasses and silverware to avoid fingerprints. Trust me, you will thank me for this glove idea when you lay everything out on your formal dinner table.

Place down a charger plate and china. Then a salad fork and a dinner fork are placed to the left of the dinner plate, lining up the tines of the fork to the top of the place setting. To the right of the plate go the dinner and salad knives and knife rest. A soupspoon goes to the right if the knives.

As for glassware, slender, crystal champagne flutes are gorgeous and match almost any dinner service. Other things that can be placed include attractive demitasse cups and finger bowls.

Pieces will come and go during a formal dinner, according to the dishes being served. When clearing soup dishes, also remove the under liner. Next comes the salad plate, which will also be withdrawn when finished. Replace the bread and butter plate halfway through dinner with a vegetable plate. Your dessert and mise-en-place can stay off the table until after the main course has been served.

Place cards should be positioned at each setting, along with individual, tiny salt and pepper shakers. A trick for avoiding drips when pouring wine is to fold and wrap a napkin around the top of the bottle to end up with a wine collar, which helps catch any drips.

There are a many options for flower arrangements. A simple vase with a single flower placed at each place setting works great not only for decoration but also for a take-home gift. Another enhancement is a medium-sized bouquet of assorted flowers and greens placed in a silver pot. And, of course, a really big floral statement can be placed in the centre of the table. And that's your primer on formal dining!