You want this year's family Thanksgiving dinner to be extra special. No paper plates and plastic cups on trays in front of the football game.
There are a few simple rules for an elegant meal
So, you pull out the fine china, polish the silver, wash the stemware and iron your prettiest cloth for the dining room table. You arrange flowers or fruit for a centerpiece and put tapers in the candelabra.
What you serve and how many courses you offer depends on your family's food preferences, but four courses likely would be sufficient for the bounteous Thanksgiving dinner.
The courses might be a shrimp or oyster cocktail, followed by soup, followed by the main course _ turkey and all the trimmings. For a very formal dinner, the salad course comes next, and then dessert and coffee. However, hostesses today most often serve the salad before, or along with, the main course.
Here, with assistance from the 14th edition of "Emily Post's Etiquette, a Guide to Modern Manners," is a page of tips on formal dining.
There are degrees of formality, of course, and most modern households do not come equipped with servers. Carving of the bird may be done by Dad at the table, with plates passed to Mom for serving the dressing and vegetables. Responsible children may be charged with helping place and remove the plates.
Certain rules do, however, hold fast: Diners are served from their left and plates are removed from their right. No one begins to eat until the hostess has raised her fork to begin. And no one leaves the table — no rushing to the den to watch a football kickoff — until the hostess rises and signals the end of the meal.
But, no matter how formal or informal the setting, the most important amenities of all at a Thanksgiving table are warm hearts and gratitude for family and friends.
Diners find their places at the table according to place cards bearing only title and surname. Children's place cards have first names only. The card is centered on the napkin, which is folded on top of the place plate. Each diner removes the place card to a spot above his plate and gently spreads the napkin on his lap.
The Napkin Napkins should not be vigorously shaken out and should not be tucked into the collar or belt. When the meal ends, the napkin should be crumpled into loose folds and placed on the table to the left or right of the desert plate. It is never refolded.
First Course: Fruit or Seafood Cocktail
The cocktail fork is to the right of the knife and spoon.
Serve in appropriate cup or stemware on saucer placed on top of the place plate.
Second Course: soup
Soup is served in dishes or two-handled cups placed on their own saucers.
The soup spoon is to the right of the knife.
Third Course: Turkey and salad
The main course is served and may be accompanied by a salad on a seperate plate, placed above the forks to the left of the dinner plate.The smaller fork is for the salad.
The larger fork is for the entree.
The hostess may serve soup from a tureen placed on the table or a sideboard, or soup may be served in the kitchen and brought to the table in individual cups.
A jelly spoon may be used to serve the jellied cranberry sauce.
Either a silver or china serving bowl is appropriate for turkey stuffing.
It is proper to pour the gravy when it is served in a boat, as shown. Gravy also may be served in a bowl, in which case it is ladled onto the food with a small ladle.
Dessert and coffee
Dessert is served, accompanied by coffee or demitasse (from the French: demi/half, tasse/cup) and appropriate individual teaspoons or demitasse spoons.
SALT AND PEPPER
An open saltcellar and a pepper pot may be found at each place on a formal table, or at least between every two places. Diners sprinkle salt from the open cellar by using the tiny salt spoon.
SUGAR AND CREAMER
Sugar, creamer and sugar shell are passed when coffee is served.