Is setting a proper table becoming a lost art among young families?
I really hope it's not, but unfortunately, from what I've observed, I think it might be.
I've tried to make a point in my parenting not to take my way of living down to the standard of my small children, but to call my children up to my standard, instead.
One good and practical way to do this is in the setting of the table.
I was expecting guests for dinner Friday night, so I carved out time on Thursday to set my dining room table. I snapped pictures along the way so that I could share the process with you.
The completed table looked like this:
Since this is a blog on home living, today's post is about the steps it took to get to this nicely set table.
The first tip that I can give you is to work on your table the day before the dinner party. The day of the party is hectic enough, plus, it's a wonderful feeling to wake up to such preparedness when you know that company is coming! I just simply tell the children not to touch. My children have been trained in obedience, so this is not a problem.
On Thursday morning, after breakfast, I was ready to begin. This was the starting point:
My first order of business was to clear everything off. There was a lot to put away!
I've been reading through the book of Romans. I sit here with my coffee every morning and read one chapter. I like to read the bible this way, instead of random snippets here and there. I pick one book and read it from start to finish. I just completed Hebrews, and I read through John before that.
I'm trying to pick New Testament books to try something different because I usually tend to gravitate toward the Old Testament books. (They're fascinating!)
So, once everything was put away, I had an empty table; a clean slate:
It's important to disinfect the table before setting it. As you could see from the above pictures, we do a lot of living at our table, so I got out a disinfectant with a damp cloth and wiped the table down.
I gave the room a quick sweep:
Then I opened up the china cabinet to start pulling dishes out:
I determined what I wanted to use based on the menu...
And started carrying items to the sink for a hot, soapy bath:
I hand-washed goblets and sherbet dishes:
As well as my antique, hand-painted plates. If you have any dishes that are etched or hand-painted, please don't send them through the dishwasher! If you play some nice music for yourself, hand-washing them can actually be very enjoyable.
Once everything was washed and dried it was time to create the place settings. I was setting the table for ten.
(Years ago I didn't have any chargers or place mats, so I used sheet music that I tore out of old music books. It worked just fine and I believed it was beautiful! I bring that up because I don't think it requires money or the right items to set a lovely table. Just use what you have and get creative!)
I now have these gold chargers, though, and I use them a lot.
Another tip I can share is to pull all seating away from the table while you're working on this. It's nice to not have to bump into, and reach around, chairs.
Next, I set the dinner plates:
Then the napkins:
(They're folded in thirds, lengthwise, and tucked under the plate.)
Then, the salad plates:
Then the sherbet dishes on top:
Once I reached this point, it was time to get the baby up from her nap. She watched me sweetly while I continued the process with the silverware.
Isn't she cute?! She's a good girl, too! I was singing to her and talking to her while I worked.
These are the things childhood memories are made of! Mama's! Get out your nice dishes while your kids are young! When they're adults they'll never, out of a feeling of nostalgia say, "Ah, remember when mama would set out the plastic plates and paper cups!"
You can see here how the silverware goes. Two forks on the left; a dinner fork and a dessert fork. I off-set them just a touch. It's more visually appealing that way. The knife and spoon go on the right, with the knife on the inside, facing the plate.
All that's left now are the goblets:
And sliding the chairs back in:
There are a couple of things to take note of in the above picture. First, I decided to do a simple centerpiece of just three candles and a deer antler, instead of a tablescape. The reason for this is because I was putting the kids at the island in the kitchen, where I sometimes do a buffet-style set-up with the food. But since the kids were going to be eating there, I decided to put all of the food on the table for more of a family-style set-up. (I actually prefer it this way!) So... all of that to say, I needed room on the table!!! (Yes, there was food involved, too. Another reason to set the table the day before!)
The other thing I wanted to say about this is that I don't have 10 of everything. If you look real closely at the setting at the head of the table, it is different than the others. I'm pointing this out because I've set imperfect tables through the years and wondered if I should break down and invest in a large matching set of everything. But, in the end I never do because even with some mis-matched pieces, I've noticed, it always turns out beautiful!
Like the well-mannered hostess that I am, I put my phone away Friday evening, (actually, I was flying around like a head-less chicken and forgot I had a phone) and didn't snap another picture until everyone left. This is the aftermath of an evening spent talking, laughing, and eating with friends. This picture was taken at midnight:
This table has had many roles and responsibilities. Many school days figuring out math, lots of sewing projects, and several years worth of gatherings with our family and friends. My prayer is that we'll have years more!!! What wonderful memories we're making!
I'll mention a quick etiquette tip before I go. One of my friends brought a hostess gift for me. I'm not sure what the etiquette books say, but in my opinion a hostess gift is not expected or necessary, however, it's extremely thoughtful and very good manners!
This is what she brought me:
I think this is a nice hostess gift! The next time you're invited to a dinner party, consider bringing a hostess gift! Some other ideas for a small and thoughtful gift would be: A box of flavored tea bags with a pretty mug; A small window sill plant like Aloe or an African Violet; A good quality candle.
Well friends, that's all I have for you today!
Until next time,