This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
In the centre of the table should be either a vase of flowers or a dish of fruit. Fern? make a very attractive effect. There should be small dishes of candies, figs, prunes, crystallized ginger, etc. Olives or radishes, salted almonds, etc., should be set in pretty little dishes on the table. These, with the silver, glass carafes of water, and wine decanters, complete the decoration of the table.
Everything else should be served from the side-table, and passed to each guest. This saves great confusion, and contributes more than anything else to the comfort of the meal. It is important also to have warm food served on hot plates. Cold plates will spoil the best dinner ever cooked.
The table cloth should be of the finest quality; and it is well for those whose means do not permit them to follow fashion's every caprice, to remember that fine white table linen is always in place. If colored materials are used, the latest edict of fashion forbids the employment of any stuffs that will not wash.
Decorations should always be arranged so that they will not prevent the guests from seeing one another. The preference is now for low dishes of flowers of delicate perfume. Those of strong fragrance should be avoided, as in a warm room their odor may become oppressive.
An ostentatious display of flowers, plate, or ornaments of any kind is not in the best taste; nothing being more vulgar than a seeming desire to impress your friends with a show of wealth.