Setting The Table | Place Settings
The number of guests, available space and the size of the table will dictate if you can host a sit down afternoon tea (high tea) or a more informal buffet style where guests can serve themselves and move around freely.
If you’ve decided on a sit down affair, there are numerous ways to set the table. A traditional high tea place setting requires a small cake plate placed in front of each chair and with the cup and saucer to the top right of the plate. Arguments rage on the correct placement of napkins and cutlery and the ‘rules’ can vary from one country to the next. I believe nothing is particularly right or wrong and if you have plenty of room, napkins can be folded on the left of the plate and the cutlery – a cake fork, tea knife (bread and butter size) and teaspoon should be lined up on the right with the blade of the knife facing inwards to the plate and the tines of the fork facing upwards. If all the food can be eaten with the fingers or a cake fork, then you won’t need knives. However if you are planning on serving scones with jam and cream served separately, then your guests will need knives.
If space is at a premium (or you just prefer it), the napkin can be place on the right and the cutlery arranged on top.
For a more modern or eclectic afternoon tea, well anything goes really and if space is really tight, but you want your guests to be seated at the table, you can place the cake plate, cup & saucer and cutlery directly on top of the napkin for a really delightful table setting and something a little more relaxed.
It’s your tea party and whichever way you decide to set your tables, your guests will love it .