Catasauqua Press

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Respectfully Yours: formal table setting

Friday, September 27, 2019 by JACQUELYN YOUST Special to The Press in Focus

Dear Jacquelyn,

I have an important formal dining event coming up and I’m getting flustered thinking about it. I often get overwhelmed when I see a formal place setting. I need a few dining etiquette tips so I do not embarrass myself.

Dear Reader, Dining etiquette standards have relaxed a great deal in recent decades.

However, there still are certain dining guidelines that will be useful when you want to make a good impression.

You may be confronted with all sorts of utensils and glasses at your place setting and it’s easy to become confused. When you need to know what drink glass and bread plate is yours, simply consider “B-M-W” (Bread. Main Course.Water).

This is a helpful way to master a complicated place setting. When you look over your place setting, notice, from left to right: Bread, Main Course, Water. This helpful tip will prevent you from using the wrong bread plate or grabbing the wrong water glass.

Navigating the flatware is not as hard as it may look. To prevent yourself from using the wrong flatware when you are surrounded by various shapes and sizes of knives, forks and spoons, you just need to remember to work from the outside in. Start your meal with the utensils furthest from your plate, and work your way in as each course goes by.

The same applies to stemware, start with the glass closest to you. The glass that is furthest away from you will used last. Glasses will be taken away after each course, but your water glass will remain on the table throughout.

Traditionally, it’s proper to wait to eat until the host begins. Pace yourself. You should never be the first to finish the meal. Everyone should start and finish at more or less the same time.

It’s good to be well-versed in table etiquette. More than a list of do’s and don’ts, the heart of table etiquette is thoughtful consideration. It allows us to enjoy the experience and prevents us from embarrassing ourselves.

Respectfully Yours, Jacquelyn Youst

Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.

All Rights Reserved © 2019 Jacquelyn Youst