A formal meal requires attention to the specific rules for setting the table. These rules have evolved over centuries of diplomatic and social practice. The placement of table coverings and tableware creates an atmosphere of celebration and elegance. The standardised positioning of utensils facilitates eating while maintaining polite conversation. Diners do not have to search for the proper tableware because the best utensil or glass for the dish or beverage currently before them is always right at hand.
Every party needs a well-equipped bar. Make sure yours includes the following items: cocktail shaker (if serving cocktails), bottle opener, corkscrew, water jug, ice cubes, ice bucket and tongs or scoop, small knife, garnishes for drinks (lemons, limes, cherries, olives, onions) and napkins.
Cloth napkins come in several sizes, each size tailored to a specific use. A beverage napkin, used when serving drinks and hors d’oeuvres, like most cloth napkins, is square, about five inches to each side. A luncheon napkin is a couple of inches larger, and a dinner napkin larger still. The theory, evidently, is that the more food and drink that is served, the more potential there is for spillage, so the bigger the napkin must be to catch it.