The first principles here are to have everything clean and shining, and to lay everything straight. Have as little on the table as possible. It is not comfortable to have a large array of articles at one's place. Figure 71 shows you a dainty and well-laid table, arranged for a Sunday night supper, and this arrangement is a good one for any meal, with substitutes for the chafing dish.
Be sure that the cloth is straight, the center fold in the middle of the table, and that the cloth hangs evenly on all sides. See that centerpiece and doilies are laid at even distance..
In Fig. 71 the knife, edge out, is at the right, with one spoon, and the glass is at the right, in line with the end of the knife. Two forks are at the left, and a plate for bread and butter, with bread knife are at the left, opposite the glass. The napkin is at the left. This plan, somewhat elaborated, may be safely followed for formal service. Two knives may be placed at the right, with the soup spoon, and three forks at the left. If more than these are needed, they may be supplied later, laid on the plate placed for a certain course, in the middle of the plate, handle toward the guest.
Courtesy of Dept. of Foods and Cookery, Teachers College.
Fig. 71. - A table set for Sunday night supper.
The other articles on the table may vary widely. For everyday use, where there is no maid, or only one, set in places convenient to pass, the salt and pepper, vinegar and sugar, bread plate and butter plate, and any small dish of condiment or pickle, with pretty mats for the hot dishes to be set on later, and enough spoons for serving. See that the arrangement is symmetrical and convenient. A table laid in this way has room for little more in the way of "decoration " than a slender vase holding a few flowers in the center. The dishes for dessert can be ready on a side table.
For formal service nothing is placed on the table in addition to the equipment at each place, but some centerpiece containing ferns or flowers, with pretty dishes of silver or glass holding relishes, candies, or dried fruits, a graceful arrangement being to alternate four of these with four candlesticks for meals served late in the day.
Here fancy may run riot with color schemes, and pretty devices for special occasions. A painted place card, a small bonbon box, a single flower with a pin for fastening it on, - all these have their place at times. Satin ribbon is not an appropriate table decoration laid across the table in a broad band, even when it displays a class color. Find some other way to make the color effective. A color scheme in the food can be carried out to a degree for some occasion, but do not let the color interfere with a really satisfactory menu.
Figures 72 and 73 suggest the daintiness possible in setting a tray. It is well worth while to spend time in the careful arrangement of the tray, for pretty dishes in orderly array may tempt the appetite of the invalid.