Setting a formal Easter table

fair-trade-easter-bunnySpring is here! It’s my favorite time of year. I love the blooming flowers and trees and hearing the birds chirp and sing. I also love the longer days, especially here in dark, rainy Seattle. And, I love having a reason to get together with family to celebrate Easter. (Okay, and I admit I like any reason to eat chocolate. Dark chocolate bunnies please.)

If you’re planning on having an Easter feast you may want to set a little more formal table. If you’re not quite sure what goes where, follow these tips in setting the table.

If you’re serving several courses, you’ll want to include the utensils for each course. Remember this tip. Forks have four letters, so does the word left. So forks are always placed on the left. Spoon and knife have five letters, same with the word right. Therefore knives and spoons are set to the right of the plate.

Not sure how to line everything up? Follow the outside in rule. That is we start with the utensils farthest from the plate and work our way in toward the plate. So, if you’re serving soup or salad first, those utensils are placed the farthest from the plate. And, in case you’re wondering; the salad fork is the smaller fork. The soup spoon has a rounder bowl, it’s not a teaspoon. See the diagram below.

Special occasion place setting with AC logo

Here’s a fun fact. Back in medieval days, people ate only with knives. Because of the treachery of the times, one’s eating knife was also a weapon. Someone sitting to the right of a surly diner could easily have his throat slit by the evil-doer. As we evolved into eating with a fork and a knife, it became polite to set the knife on the table with the blade facing in toward the plate. Further, when placing your knife at the top of the plate to rest, face the blade towards you. You do this so you don’t display the sharp end toward others.

If you’re serving dessert, you can set the dessert fork (a salad fork can be used) and dessert spoon (which is usually a teaspoon) at the top of the plate. To remember how to place them think again of the fork = left, spoon = right tip. The handle of the fork faces left because if you pull it down it comes to the left of the plate. The dessert spoon handle faces right.

If you happen to have bread plates and butter knives, they are placed above the salad and dinner forks. The way you can remember the placement of the bread plate and glasses is the BMW acronym – Bread, Meal, Water. The butter knife rests across the upper part of the bread plate, blade down, with the handle pointing to the right because it will be picked up by most people with the right hand.

If you’re serving multiple wines with the meal, the outside in rule also applies to beverage glasses. Place the glasses in the order of how the wine will be served from right to left. The first glass being used is placed farthest to the right. The other glasses line up to the left of each glass. The water glass is behind or toward the end of all of the wine glasses.

If you’d like to be purposeful about who sits where, you can put place cards above each place setting. Just don’t seat Trump supporter Aunt Mary next to Bernie fan Cousin Joe. It could get ugly.

So there you have it – a lovely formal table for Easter. I hope you have a wonderful celebration.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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