Service Skill: Setting the Table

Here are some quick overarching table-setting tips and guidelines I’ve run across.

  1. Space things evenly and line them up (bottoms of the vertical flatware all along the same line, for instance).
  2. All knife blades face towards the plate.
  3. Be consistent in your style. There are different types of settings (like North American versus European); stick to one.
  4. Use as few disposables as possible to increase class. Cloth napkins, real dishes. Have them match, and make sure they’re spotless.
  5. Napkins can go either to the left of the fork or on the charger (in less spacious settings). Under the fork is also an informal option.
  6. Big centerpieces might look pretty in isolation; on the table, they mean you can’t see the person across from you. Think smaller, or get creative on placement. Real or fake candles or flowers; consider string lights. Learn basic flower arranging.
  7. Certain types of plates, bowls, and glassware can be chilled for serving things cold or heated for serving things warm. Adds a touch of luxury.
  8. Remember drinks and condiments; arrange attractively (try serving butter in balls, curls, or piped shapes).
  9. Remember lighting and music/atmosphere, but keep it conversation focused: soft, instrumental music (or background noise—rain sounds, so on), and practical, but intimate lighting.
  10. Place cards make seating and identification easy; they’re very handy if not everyone is eating quite the same thing. Learn some lettering and do them yourself for an extra nice touch.
  11. Be mindful of attractive plating practices. Remember the protein/entree should be closest to the diner. The Clock Plate: (Veggie 12-3, Protein 3-9, Carb 9-12)
  12. Check what’s in your butler’s book for any special considerations for those who will be dining.

4 thoughts on “Service Skill: Setting the Table”

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