I can think of nothing simpler in this world that will nourish a body and soul as a family dinner will. I am a big believer in sitting at a nicely-dressed table and enjoying a meal together at least a few times a week. Do we ever do it as often as I’d like? No. Do we eat in the car on the way to a lesson once in a while? Sure we do. However, my goal is to more often than not, sit together, break our bread, and share our day.
When she was in seventh grade, I decided to teach my daughter to set a table as part of a homeschool class. Before that, we’d just been doing a haphazard setting of whatever each night, and I had no idea what a proper place setting was. I soon found that most of your basic cookbooks have a diagram similar to the one pictured here from the Washington Post.
Whew, that formal setting is something else, isn’t it? I had Coco copy a diagram onto paper and then set the table on her own for dinner that night. Easy! After a few practice runs with her cheat sheet, she had it down. I still need one, but that’s another matter entirely. I’m thrilled that my daughters will start their families one day with the ability to set a table for any kind of event.
I would encourage you not to wait until seventh grade to teach your daughters. Younger children can certainly learn, too. My youngest was five when Coco learned, and she wanted a turn the next night. I realized then that I could have taught Coco when she was much younger but it hadn’t occurred to me until I wanted to teach her a homemaking course.
A Touch of Beauty
Something I’ve enjoyed long before I knew where the dessert spoon belonged is bringing a little bit of beauty to our table as often as I can. There are so many simple household items you can gather and place in a bowl, or on a tray and add interest to your table. It only adds a minute or two to your routine, and makes everyone feel just a little more special.
Here are some things I’ve thrown together in a minute:
• Sea shells
• A collection of beaded necklaces on a mirror
• A pretty scarf
• A glass bowl of apples and oranges
Oftentimes, I’ll ask my younger daughter to find something pretty for the table and she makes quite an adventure out of it. She doesn’t think twice about laying a dress-up crown and wand in the middle of the table because she’s seen her mommy do it on birthdays.
These are just a few simple ideas to get you started. I will be posting more specific table settings here at Raising Homemakers in the future.
I like to think that our chatty meals will create the backdrop of what will all too soon be my daughters’ childhood memories. And I often remind them that they will come home every Sunday for our big Sunday dinner, and bring their families, too. Of course they won’t have to come far, because they’ll live on the same block. A mom can dream, right?
Do you know how to set a table or did you have to peek at the diagram like I did?