Mini Manners: Which Teeny Tiny Fork to Use First?

I was fortunate enough to come across a set of fancy dinnerware from one of my favorite dollhouse suppliers, MothersMiniTreasures, a few days before I went on my little trip. In the realm of 1/12 scale, dishes (and “china” especially) are often priced the same way a life-sized plate, or teacup, or butterknife would be. It’s difficult to find nice ones, at least for me.

A long story short, I was able to order them before I left, and I came home with a little package chuck full of plastic “china”. This set is truly meant for formal parties; there are two spoons, two forks, a knife, a teacup and saucer, a bread plate, a soup bowl, and a dinner plate. And that’s per place setting.

So the question presents itself: how do you set a table with this many dishes? Does the salad fork go on the outside because you use it first, or is it the dessert fork because it’s smaller? Does the bread plate go on the right or the left? There’s a lot of knowledge involved, most of which I don’t have.

In the end, I just used the picture on the packaging as a reference, but then I decided to do a little back research too. One of the first things I came across was this image, which made me laugh.

At least at my house, “informal dining” consists of throwing mismatching dishes on the table and hoping that the fork lands on the left while the knife ends up on the right. Need I mention that we don’t drink our water from stemware?

Of course, I didn’t tell the imaginary leprechaun-sized people living in the doll all this, because they needed to get in the swing of things, just in case they’re ever invited to a formal ball or something. (They are pretty new to the neighborhood, and haven’t made any friends yet). So they puttered around all morning while I hacked an old diaper box into a lightbox for photography. When they finally got their act together, they pulled out their old camera and snapped this shot.

One of them promptly commented that the wallpaper looks lovely in all the photos they take of it. This is prop wallpaper, because I couldn’t fit the whole kitchen into the lightbox. It’s a sample, for them. Just between us, if they think they’re getting new wallpaper less than three months after the first pattern’s installed, they’re seriously mistaken.

All right, I’m done with my little spiel. Now it’s your turn. Are formal place settings as in “this spoon goes here” dead? Should they be? Tell me what you’re thinking. We can have a conversation.

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5 thoughts on “Mini Manners: Which Teeny Tiny Fork to Use First?

  1. I am no expert of etiquette. At home when I have guests I try my best to make a nice meal (this is usually easy to do) and have a decent setting at the dinner table. I always forget on which side the spoons and forks go, but at least all place have the same setting. My friends and family are really forgiving 🙂

    For the very few times I’ve been to a classy restaurant, I do appreciate all the efforts made in setting the table. It’s that little (or big according to point of view) detail that make the whole experience of great restaurant cuisine so exceptional and memorable.

  2. I couldn’t have put it better myself. The few times I’ve been to a nice restaurant, like a golf course clubhouse restaurant or a white tablecloth one, it’s been fun to use the different forks and glasses and such. I think that a large aspect of whatever you eat involves the atmosphere and setting, and eating good food in a beautiful establishment makes it just that much better.

  3. I try to teach a basic place setting very similar to what you show in your first photo, but here is a tip for you. When deciding where the utensils should go I use the word “right” and “left” as my guide. Right has five letters and left has four. So any utensil that has 5 letters goes on the right side and any with four go on the left. Fork (4) on the left and spoons and knives (5) on the right. You work from the outside in so you would have the utensil you will use first on the outside. Sounds confusing, but it is pretty simple. Hope that helps.

    • Those are both great tips! I’ve never heard of the 5 letters/4 letters hint, but that makes a lot of sense. Mama always taught us the rhyme “Fork and knife had a fight, the fork went left, the knife went right.” I’ll keep both in mind next time I set my tiny (or life-sized) table. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Photography: When Effects Are Too Much | the frippery factory

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