Setting the Table: Formal vs Casual

If you are a fan of the TV series, Downton Abbey, you'll recall the scene from the opening sequence where butlers carefully measure the distance between each utensil and plate using a ruler, while setting a very formal table filled with china, crystal and silver. When we hear the phrase formal table setting, most of us visualize such an elaborate tablescape so it overwhelms us. However, formal table settings don't have to  be intimidating. The idea of table setting is actually simple, set the table for all the dishes you'll be serving so you minimize the amount of time you have to leave the table to get the right silverware or wine glass as you move from one course to another. The same basic idea applies to both the casual and formal table settings. As you serve more courses, you'll need a more formal table setting.
Corte Oatmeal Runners and Napkins
Guidelines For All Table Settings
As a general rule, allow 24" to 30" for each setting. Place settings about 1" away from the edge of the table. Utensils can line up either at the same baseline or center at the same median line.  Knife blades should face the plates. Do not place cups or dessert plates on the table if they overcrowd the table. You can always bring them to the table when you are serving dessert. Remember to keep centerpieces low so your guests can see each other and converse easily. Napkins can be placed over the plate or to the left of forks or under the forks. We prefer over the plate placement for napkins as it saves space rather than placed to the left of the forks and it is easier to access than under the forks.
Watermark Green Napkin, Dragonfly Napkin Ring, Presto Willow Placemat
Casual Table Setting
A casual table setting has minimal tableware and is used for meals up to three-courses. Due to the low number of meals served, all utensils can be easily placed on the table without overcrowding. Place utensils in the order of usage, starting from outside moving towards the plate. Dessert forks and spoons are optional and can be placed above the plate. Two glasses are needed; one for water and one for wine. Water glass is placed directly over knife, wine glass is placed to its right and slightly above.
Metallic Band Gold Runner, Luster Gold Elliptic Placemat and Coasters,
Cornice Gold Napkin, Coral Gold Napkin Ring
Formal Table Setting
A formal table setting is necessary for meals consisting of six or more courses. Due to the high number of meals, not all tableware can be placed on the table. For instance, spoons required for any meal other than soup can be presented with the courses they accompany. Three or more glasses will be needed. Because there are more tableware on a formal setting, you may prefer to use a table cloth instead of trying to fit everything on a place mat. However, with today's trends and lifestyle, it is acceptable to use mats and coasters even for a formal setting.
Riviera Plum Napkin & Presto Plum Placemat
Everyday Setting
Don't forget to treat yourself and your family when you don't have company & set the table with placemats and napkins everyday. Using fabric napkins is better for the environment than paper napkins and a beautifully set table makes every meal feel special. Even if you are eating by yourself, don't underestimate the mood boosting effects of a simple but visually pleasing tablescape. For everyday table setting, one important factor to keep in mind is the easiness of care. Our Riviera stonewashed napkins are ideal for everyday use as they don't require any ironing. Add any of our easy care mats to the table and you are all set!

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