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This table is ready for guests to sit down. Each person needs a dinner plate, a bread-and-butter plate, silverware, and a glass (if wine is served, include a wineglass). Kids can carry everything to the table in piles and then arrange it. The placement of silverware is logical: in the order it will be used, from the outside in. The only exception is dessert silverware, which rests horizontally above the plate or is brought in with dessert.
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The soup bowl is placed on the dinner plate, and soup is eaten with a soupspoon. Since this is the first course, the spoon is to the right of the knife, the first thing you reach.
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The soup bowl and spoon are removed, and the salad is served on a midsize plate. If the salad will be served with the main course, this plate is placed to the left of the forks.
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The salad plate and salad fork are now cleared away, and the dinner plate beneath is revealed. With the outer pieces of silverware removed, the dinner fork and dinner knife are exposed and easy to reach, ready to be used at last.
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Before dessert is served, everything is removed from the table except the water glasses and the dessert silver. Where the dinner plate sat, the dessert plate is substituted, and a cup and saucer for coffee are placed to its right.
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For the most part, setting the table means following rules. But one place you can be creative is with the arranging of the napkins. You can fold them into rectangles or triangles or even into showier designs.
This rolled napkin is fancy yet easy enough for kids to do. To make it, fold a napkin in half. Lay it in front of you with one short end closest to you. Fold this end up by about an inch, then slowly roll the napkin up, keeping the edges lined up and smoothing out wrinkles. Tie it with an 18-inch piece of ribbon. Place the napkin on the plate with the sewn edges pointing toward the chair.