The range of a cutlery arsenal will depend on the formality of the occasion, but the layout should always be the same – fork to the left, knives and spoons to the right and pudding implements above the place setting. A knife for buttering bread should be placed on or near the side plate, and to the left of the place setting. Simply work from the outside into the middle. Glasses should be placed to the right of the setting, and different glasses should be provided for red wine, white wine, water and, if you are serving it, champagne. Napkins should be folded simply; complex origami looks over-elaborate and should be avoided. Name cards are not necessary at casual gatherings, but it is the host’s prerogative to seat guests where he or she thinks is most appropriate. Ensure that table decorations are lower or higher than eye level; being forced to peer around a floral display to make eye contact with the person opposite will inhibit conversation.

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