It is not easy to lay down any fixed rule for the character of the dinner. That must be governed by the season and the taste and resources of the host. However humble the pretensions of the dinner, it should never consist of less than three courses, namely, soup or fish, a joint (which, in a small dinner, may be accompanied by poultry or game) and pastry. Cheese with salad follows as a matter of course. Dessert succeeds.

The number of servants necessary will depend, of course, on the number of guests. Three will be enough for a party of ten or twelve persons. On their training and efficient service the success of the dinner will largely depend.

What is above said about courses applies, of course, to a very simple meal. In those of more pretension the courses may vary considerably in number and character, though custom lays down certain fixed rules for the succession of viands. For an ordinary dinner the following will suffice as an example.