The order of serving at a meal.

If little children are present, it is often desirable to serve them first, since they eat slowly and must have their food made ready for them. Older children need the experience of waiting. In the family, after the little children are served, the mother is served, then the girls, and finally the boys.

If guests are present, they should be served first if the service is informal; if, however, the service is semi-formal, they may be served first or the hostess may be served first and the guests next. There is good reason for this last rule since it enables the hostess to set the pace in choice of silver, and in use of equipment and food, and may prevent embarrassment on the part of guests. If two guests are present, a man and a woman, the woman should be served first; an older woman should be served before a younger one.

At a dinner where both men and women are present, it facilitates service, after the hostess and guest of honor at her right are served, to complete the serving on that side of the table before beginning on the other. This is more practical though not so chivalrous as the custom at formal meals of serving all women first.