Thursday, October 1, 2009

Etiquette Challenge: The Dinner Plate

Dear Blushing Hostess,

I have a question involving tableware. All "sets" include a dinner,
salad, and bread plate, as well a soup bowl. However, I read somewhere
that the hostess should never keep dirty dishes on the table, which
means that if one has a soup and salad course, one would have to
remove each dish before the next course. Since, alas, I have no
servants, never make soup, and dislike jumping up and down to do the
serving when I have guests, what do you think of buying just the
dinner plate? Obviously, this would not be a black-tie dinner, but
what would you think if you were invited to someone's house for a
single-course meal, with the salad and vegetables served with the main

Thanks in advance,


Well, Readers, would you be so kind as to lend the benefit of your experience in the comments below?

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-=Vehni=- said...

Very cool!!


Sandy said...

Hey girl, I think any more with entertaining you can do what you want to do, or feel comfortable at. The focus: food and people! Freedom from perfect is my answer :)

Just had a minute to pop over and say hi and Happy October!

Marsha said...

I think that being true to oneself with grace and verve in hostessing (as in all things) allows one a bit of flexibility with regards to "the rules". If the letter writer feels strongly about her preferred mode of entertaining and follows it mindfully and open-heartedly, then dinner plates it should be. Certainly better that than adhering to another model that will only cause her to be a displeased and uncomfortable hostess.

If, as the years go on, she changes her mind then it's a simple enough matter to purchase open stock additions to the place settings or some kind of coordinating pattern.

Meg Bennett said...

You tend to know what your making beforehand- if it's chili, soup or something needing a bowl then a bowl, underplate and bread plate should be suffcient. If it's a meat, starch and veggie- dinner plate. If your serving bread or salad with the meal- then a bread or salad plate. No point in a formal setting if your having a casual dinner. I recently served a casserole and salad so I had the dinner plate and salad plate, linen napkin, salad fork, dinner fork and knife. I did clear the table before I served desert though and simply brought out the dishes and spoons with the dessert. It's casual, it's about laughter and stories, good food and drinks. It's about family and friends, you want to have a good time too not be rushing around and trying to make everything perfect. Good luck, have fun.

Country Contemporary said...

I think you can do whatever you like and not worry, but the previous comment by Meg about knowing what you're planning to serve (or I'd add what you typically serve for gatherings) does help inform your choice. I've often served buffet-style dinners for 10-20 people where the entree consisted of a meat with pasta or rice dish (or a casserole that combines them), plus green salad and bread, and only provided one dinner plate for each guest. If you want to keep the dinner plate pattern theme going, I'd consider adding a bread-and-butter plate or a salad plate, so you'll have something complementary on which to serve dessert. Then you can choose a contrasting bowl - glass perhaps - for soup, ice cream or whatever. Or you can do the same with salad/dessert plates...there are no rules these days for casual affairs at home. Go for it!