Helpful Hints to Setting your Thanksgiving Table

Flawless Tips: Setting the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

Casual or Formal?
Find the style you want to showcase.

I remember when I was young, setting the dinner table was one of my duties. Knowing how to set a table, you would think, is common knowledge. In todays busy world, is it still common knowledge? I can admit I am guilty at times of just grabbing the silverware, dinner plate, and snack table and eating in the living room in front of the T.V. I have at times asked my fianc or children to set the table at Thanksgiving or Christmas and had to ask them if they were joking. Who taught you how to set a table? Apparently, I missed giving them that lesson. I thought they knew!

I wanted to share some tips on creating a beautiful, and etiquette proper, way to set your holiday or special event table. There are three common ways to set your table. For basic meals at home like your everyday breakfast or dinner, you would only need to have your basic table setting: a placemat (if you use them), your silverware (fork, knife, and spoon), your dinner plate, your drinking glass, and your napkin.

The remaining two ways to set your dining table is casual (informal) place setting and formal place setting.

Casual and formal place settings

Casual Table Setting Instructions

Casual Table Setting
Casual Dinner Table Setting
  • Lay your placemat on the table.
  • Place your dinner plate in the center of the placemat.
  • Place your salad plate in the center of your dinner plate. Note: If youre starting with a soup course, place the soup bowl on top of the salad plate.
  • Lay a napkin to the left of the dinner plate or place in center of plate.
  • Place your fork on top of the napkin to the left.
  • To the right of your plate, place your knife closest to the plate and then the spoon.
  • Directly above the knife, place the water (or drinking ) glass.
  • To the right and slightly above the water glass, place the wine glass or a glass for another beverage.

Etiquette Tip:Some people may use individual salt and pepper shakers for each guest. If so, you would place them at the top of the placemat. If not, place them in the center of the table. If using a larger, rectangular table, place 2 sets on the table: on in the middle of each end.

Formal Table Setting Instructions

Formal Table Setting
A formal table setting adds more details to the table creating what could almost be an intimidating dining experience.

I do love the grandeur of it. It would include your basics from the casual dining with the addition of: a tablecloth, chargers, salad plates, bread plates, soup and dessert spoons, butter knives in addition to the dinner knife, salad fork in addition to the dinner fork, water glasses, red wine glasses and white wine glasses. Also, if it is a larger group, typically, place cards are set for designated seating. Note: A charger (yes, I had to look it up) is a large, decorative base setting for which other dinnerware is placed on top of during formal occasions such as catered events, weddings, upscale parties, banquets, or in fine dining restaurants. Charger plates can catch pieces of food, and prevent spills and messes that would otherwise stain the tablecloth or flow onto the table. Chargers also help to retain the heat in dinnerware since they are placed directly underneath plates and bowls.
  • Place tablecloth on the table. I usually iron mine.
  • Place the charger plate at each seat.
  • In the center of the charger, place your soup bowl.
  • Place your bread plate between 10and 11 according to a clock face.
  • Place your napkin to the left of the charger.
  • Place your forks on the napkin with the salad fork being placed on the outside and the dinner fork closest to the charger. (You can also place the forks between the napkin and the charger if there is room for this.)
  • Place your knife closest to the charger (blade towards the charger) and then the soup spoon. Note: All silverware should be evenly spaced with about a half inch between each other, while the bottoms of the silverware fall in line with the bottom of the charger.
  • Place your butter knife across the top of the bread plate with the blade facing inwards and the handle pointing to the right. Note: When setting a formal table, the knife blades will always face towards the plate / charger.
  • Place the dessert spoon (teaspoon) directly above the charger with its handle pointing to the right.
  • Place the water glass directly above the knife. About an inch downward from the water glass, place the white wine glass. The red wine glass will go to the right and slightly above the white wine glass.
  • If using a place card, place above the dessert spoon.
  • Use the same standard for salt and pepper shakers as with the casual dining.

Including a Kids Table?

This fringe tablecloth idea from Martha Stewart is easy
This fringe tablecloth idea from Martha Stewart is easy
And how could you not love this Pottery Barn kids table?
And how could you not love this Pottery Barn kids table?

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was a day of monumental proportion. It was a time when family and friends, young and old, sat at a table and shared a loud, laughter filled, almost gluttonous feast of Turkey and trimmings. Yes, there was a kids table. Our family however, attached our table to the end of the grander adult table. This enabled us to have our own space, while enjoying the warmth of the entire family interactions right there with us. It also allowed our parents to keep us in their sites.

There are some who feel the Thanksgiving Kids Table keeps our children from learning proper table etiquette and leaves them feeling excluded from the family holiday. It is not for me to decide what is right for your family. I am however in favor of creating an opening for kids to learn how to relate to one another. I believe this allows them to share an interaction among their peers that they may not have the chance to while sitting between Grandma Ruth and Uncle Tom. They mind their manners all week while at school, family dinners, after-school activities: this allows them to cut loose and bond. This bond that is created leaves them looking forward to holiday dinners together.

Bonus: 12 Projects for Kids in the Kitchen:

My kids always loved being involved in all the festivities the holidays offer, especially as Moms Helper in the kitchen. Here were some ways I kept them involved in preparing our feast, and they enjoyed every minute.

  • Busboy: I always served appetizers and finger foods in Living Room while I finished cooking and plating for the table. Let them help bring dirty dishes to kitchen sink.
  • Combine the stuffing ingredients: Your toddler can help you empty all the individually prepped stuffing ingredients into one big bowl.
  • Folding napkins: Unless you are getting really fancy, they really just need to fold in half and place either on or next to the plate.
  • Gravy whisker: Nobody likes lumpy gravy.
  • Kitchen Runner: Any ingredient you need and they can reach, they run for it. Pantry, refrigerator, freezer, or cabinets.
  • Measurer of everything. I always had plastic measuring cups.
  • Nut chopper: No, noDont give them a knife. Lol. If they are old enough, they could use a food processor or I used to use the coffee grinder.
  • Plater: Setting up the Platters of Appetizers or finger foods needs to get done. Let them get creative with the cheese platter or veggies and dip.
  • Potato Masher
  • Remove the green bean ends.
  • Table Setter: If you show them where the utensils go, they can set them correctly.
  • Turkey Massager: Just make sure to wash their hands very thoroughly after they touch raw meat! They could also wear cooking gloves.

To keep them busy out of the kitchen I recommend:40 Fun Thanksgiving Activities for Kids to Try This Turkey Day by Country Living

However you choose to set your table this year, the one item that cant be overlooked, is the family and friends that are at the table. Thats what matters most. It All Starts with You.
May you have a Blessed Thanksgiving.

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Flawless Tips: Setting the Perfect Thanksgiving Table