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As a lady of the Carolina’s, small shows of simple grace and etiquette should become as second nature to you. Now, this isn’t saying that you have to run out immediately and have visiting cards printed, or go buy a sterling silver tea set, but having knowledge of little things like place settings means a lot to locals and ultimately, shows that you truly care for and respect the civility which is the heart of South Carolina. Even at an informal dinner, it’s a good idea to create a centerpiece. This can be a week-long labor of love or, in most cases, a small setting thrown together about five minutes before the guests arrive. A few snippings from the juniper tree for frilly greenery and aromatic scent, a handful of flowers arranged in a low bowl or small vase, a couple strategically placed pieces of fruit and a candle or two and your centerpiece is complete. A bouquet of flowers from the local florist or, better yet, a nearby farm, would also work, but no matter what, the point is that you have one. Another little pointer: don’t make the centerpiece taller than eye level. Guests would like to be able to see each other when they speak and it could mess up a lovely arrangement if you’re having to part the sunflowers every time you want to ask a question. As for your silverware, if you have sterling silver, use it. Even, and especially, if it’s your great grandmother’s set that’s been passed down for generations.

She never intended for you to keep it wrapped up in crumbling bags of velvet. Silverware and formal china, however pretty and expensive, were meant to be used and this is a great time to show them off. Even if you don’t have formal silverware, though, the point is to have the place settings properly arranged and in the end, no one will really care what the silverware looked like as long as there’s plenty of food and wine.

of passing bowls and dishes around. If it is Thanksgiving at Grandma’s, none of the above applies.

With the dinner plate as the center, silverware should be placed in line, an inch from the edge of the table, and arranged from the outside – in, in order of use. On the right, salad fork (smaller fork), appetizer utensil (or another small fork or none at all if you aren’t having an appetizer between salad, soup and dinner), then dinner fork (your biggest fork) closest to the plate. On the left, soup spoon, spreading knife for the bread and the dinner knife closest to the plate. Be sure to turn the blade of the knives toward the plate, as an outwardly turned knife is a symbol of aggression toward the other diners (don’t you love these quaint little old world idiosyncrasies?). The dessert fork and spoon for after dinner tea or coffee should go across the top of the dinner plate, with the tines of the fork facing right and the bowl of the spoon facing left. Napkins should be folded either as simply or ornately as you like, and placed in the center of the dinner plate. Glasses are also placed an inch above the knives and in order of use starting from the far right: white wine, red wine, dessert wine and water tumbler. Dinner should be served from the kitchen and ideally, placed on each diner’s plate by the server/host instead Online Magazine | 2009 47