Easter Dining Etiquette

Family saying grace at dinner table
Hosting a holiday meal at your house this Easter Sunday? Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert, author and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, offers these tips to ensure that you are a gracious host on one of the most holy days of the year.

  • Know how to set the table: The biggest mistake most people make is when it comes to setting the table.   For example: all forks go to the left of the plate except the dessert fork which goes above the plate and cocktail fork which goes to the right of the plate. The bread and butter plate goes above and to the left of the main plate.  All drinking glasses are above and to the right of the main plate. The linen napkin sits on top of the dining plate and the place card sits on top of the napkin.
  • Do your homework: Find out ahead of time if any of your guests have food allergies or other dietary restrictions and plan your menu accordingly or prepare a buffet with a variety of items. Keep it simple and serve what you know.  Tried-and-true recipes are best, not something you’ve never served before.
  • Have a variety of beverages on hand:  The mark of a good host is to have a few bottles of red and white wine along with plenty of nonalcoholic beverages for the teetotalers in the group.  Don’t forget juice and milk for the kids.  A glass of water at each seat is also recommended.  Don’t forget to set up your coffeemaker and put cream, milk, sugar and sweetener in decorative containers.
  • Iron your linens:  When you are serving cocktails, provide linen cocktail napkins or, at the very least, decorative paper cocktail napkins.  For dinner, choose linen napkins because they’re more elegant than paper ones.  Make sure they’re ironed and neatly arranged on the table.
  • Set the mood: Candles are an easy, inexpensive, quick way to make any home more inviting. Scented candles should be placed around the house, and a few unscented candles should go directly on the dinner table. Don’t forget the tunes.  Create a dinner party playlist on your iPod or iPhone or preset your CD player so there’s music in the air when your guests arrive and keep it playing throughout the evening.
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