A casual afternoon meal offers a chance to relax and have a little fun, so all you’ll need is the basics. Take the opportunity to show a bit of personality by mixing and matching textures, patterns, and colors. This table features a patterned salad plate on top of a contrasting dinner plate. A charger isn’t required for such a casual setting.
The flatware aligns more or less with the bottom of the dinner plate.
No matter the occasion, make sure the knife’s blade points toward the plate. “It’s impolite to allow blades to face other diners,” says Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post and the author of Emily Post’s Wedding Parties (Collins, $23, amazon.com).
Feel free to use tumblers in place of wineglasses. It’s OK for stemmed and stemless glasses to coexist.
Place salt-and-pepper shakers near the center of the table. If someone asks you to pass the salt, hand her the pepper, too. The pair should always travel together.