Monday, April 28, 2008

Disappearing Act: In this casual world, is formal passé?

(above: China: Lenox; Stemware: Waterford/Wedgwood; Flatware: Vera Wang; Tablecloth: Sferra, Gracious Home)

Growing up as a child, my family sat down and had dinner together every night. I had the
chore of setting the table. Typically that meant putting the allotted number of plates
in the general vicinity of my family member, taking the forks, spoons and knives out
of the drawer and plopping them down next to the plate and if I was feeling especially
gracious, folding a paper napkin and placing it near the plate. However the holidays
were all together different! Setting the table for the holidays was more like an hour-long
production that involved linen tablecloths, silver stemware, finding the right mix of
charges, plates, bowls and my mother designing a stellar centerpiece.

(above: China: Lenox; Stemware: Waterford/Wedgwood; Flatware: Vera Wang; Tablecloth: Sferra, Gracious Home)

With America's easy lifestyle so much in the forefront, has the concept of formal dining
disappeared. Has our relaxed approach signaled the demise of long-standing dining
conventions - - and a trend away from formal entertaining?

(above: China: Lesesne; Glasses: Pottery Barn; Flatware: Pottery Barn; Placemat: Gracious Home)

(above: Plate and Mug: Pottery Barn; Glasses: Pottery Barn; Flatware: Pottery Barn; Placemat: Pottery Barn)

Despite today's relaxed lifestyle, formal dining is still an important part of many
people's tradition. So as we approach Mother's Day, here are templates to help you set the
table for a casual mother's day lunch or a formal dinner.

(above: The primary difference between a formal luncheon and formal dinner setting is the increased number of glasses
for red wine and champagne).

(above: For a formal luncheon, the table is set much as for dinner with a few exceptions. The presence of an iced teaspoon and iced beverage glass announce a daytime event).

(above: A casual dinner calls for less formal china and stemware, and stainless steel flatware is fitting for the relaxed setting).

(above: For a casual lunch, feel free to use heavier dinnerware, like these simple ceramic plates. Provide glasses for whatever beverage you plan to serve).

Source: My Home Ideas, Tablesetting 101


Simone said...

Everything has its place and season and I wish formal was more in. Sometimes, you just want to do something special, dress up in lovely frocks and enjoy a scrumptious meal on beautiful and elegant everything.

At Home with Kim Vallee said...

I find it is sad that formal entertaining is disappearing. I prefer when special days feel out of the ordinary. The same is true with how people dress for certain family events.

Sadly, the traditional media does not always help. I often saw table settings in magazines put together by designers than do not follow the standards and called their table formal. Therefore, less and less people learn the proper ways.

Brooke said...

Thank you for the table setting line drawings, its a great reference!

{this is glamorous} said...

The first two images are really lovely--adore formal settings and happily use them every chance I get :)

At Home with Kim Vallee said...

Reading your post inspired me to write about table etiquette. You are showcased obviously.

Sarah's Fab Day said...

I love a formal table we didn't do it every night as kids but we certainly did it often enough. It's so funny because it gets more casual with each generation I think. My mom tells my that her grandma had bread and butter plates even for lunch.

I think that the formal setting really sets the stage for special occasions or an intimate dinner.

francesca said...

I love your post is really interesting an useful expecially where you explain where to put things in a formal dinner.I'm italian and we generally don't use the bread plate and since I love decoration of the tables i will have a look in your blog very often.

Jennifer said...

I found this story very helpful and informative when I read it on -- especially the printable PDFs of the tablesettings. Someone there must have worked very hard to put all of it together!

Anonymous said...



Lindsay H. said...

This is a brilliant post. I now have directions thanks to you. Am printing this out lol

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