TO LAY THE CLOTH FOR DINNER.
The cloth itself must first be put on straight and evenly, and if at all creased should be pressed with a clean iron over a damp cloth. The cloth should not be laid upon the bare table, but the table should be first covered by some asbestos-felt or an old cloth. Should the housewife wish to display her highly-polished table, she may dispense with a table-cloth and use dainty lace mats for each plate or dish, taking care to protect the polish of the table by using small asbestos mats under the fancy mats.
Here we go with the asbestos again. I believe all of my place mats are cork backed, so I hope that suffices.
Everything necessary for laying the cloth, including the napkins, should first be brought into the room, and it is a good plan to put the latter round the table first, so that the same amount of space can be allowed to each person.
Remember we're giving each person AT LEAST 24 inches. Except at a lot of restaurants where they really don't seem to care if you keep nudging the person next to you when cutting your steak.
These occupy the space between the knives and forks, and in each, if folded, should be put either a dinner roll or a piece of bread cut rather thick.
Remembering of course that side plates are a definite no-no at dinner.
Table-napkins are often merely folded over and laid flat on the plate ready for the hors d'œuvre, between the knives and forks; a small knife is then laid on the napkin.
Next place the menu cards, if these are used, either one to each person, or one between three or four, if only a few are provided.
The water jugs, cruets and salt cellars may next be laid. There should be a cruet at each corner of the table, while a salt cellar should be between every two persons. We now come to the knives and forks, and of these it is usual to lay a large one of each, the knife flanked to the right by a fish knife, a soup spoon, and an hors d'œuvre fork, and on the left of the fork should be the fish fork; other knives and forks are supplied with the plates for different courses.
A cruet set is a collection of little bottles of vinegar and oil and pepper... sometimes salt as well.
The question of what wine is to be drunk at dinner will determine what glasses are wanted, as the glasses used for dessert are put on afterwards.
Supposing, as is so often the case, sherry, champagne and claret are to be served, put the proper glasses for each to the right side of each person, setting them in a triangle, with the sherry glass (the first used) at the top, just reaching to the point of the knife, but at a convenient distance from it.
Exactly the same way we were taught to put glasses on the table at hospitality school. Some things never change.
The sideboard requires to be laid as carefully as the dinner-table itself, and everything that can be put there ready for placing on the table afterwards, such as finger-bowls, glasses for dessert wine, dessert plates, decanters, and knives, forks and spoons of every kind should be there ready and carefully arranged. The decanters, salvers, glasses, etc., should be put well at the back of the sideboard, and the plates, knives, forks, etc., neatly laid in front.
When the dinner is not carved on the table, one specially intended for the carver should be prepared with carving knives and forks (the former carefully sharpened beforehand) of various kinds, soup ladle, fish-carvers, etc., in the order of serving the dinner, that nothing may delay him when he commences his duties.
I always, always, always carve in the kitchen. I don't know why, but it seems easier somehow, and I always make a big mess which would probably ruin my table cloth.
Champagne, hock, or other sparkling wines that are only uncorked when wanted, may find a place under the sideboard of side tables where the ice pails are to be found; decanted wines are put on the sideboard.