Preparing a holiday table

November 29, 1992|By Jo Werne | Jo Werne,Knight-Ridder News Service

Thanksgiving may be over, but the lavish feasts of Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's still beckon. These holidays can be burdensome if one leaves preparation for the last minute.

Here are some tips for preparing a pretty holiday table.

* Use small brushes with silk or nylon bristles for cleaning fine ornamentation.

* Avoid prolonged contact between silverware and foods such as eggs, mayonnaise, vinaigrette dressing and shellfish. It is not oxygen that tarnishes silver, but sulfur, either in the air or in certain foods and materials.

* Hand wash silver with a mild detergent in hot water, followed by a hot rinse. Towel dry with soft cotton cloths. Most professionals do not recommend machine washing. If you must, VTC use the minimum amount of detergent called for in your dishwasher, then stop the cycle before drying begins. Remove the silver and dry with soft cotton. This eliminates spotting and prevents buildup of chemical residues.

Sparkling crystal makes a holiday table shine. Here is some advice from Swarovski, an Austrian crystal manufacturer.

* Crystal must be handled carefully. Do not rush when handling or cleaning crystal, as it is easily chipped. Wearing rubber gloves allows for better gripping.

* When handling a piece of crystal, always use both hands and support the base of the piece for security.

* It is important to keep crystal objects in a stable environment. Beware of heat; even ordinary cabinet lighting can be detrimental. Low-voltage tungsten lights provide adequate illumination with minimum heat buildup.

* When storing crystal glasses, do not turn them upside down. The base is sturdier than the top. This prevents the rim of the drinking glass from chipping.

* Antique and valuable crystal should be kept in a cabinet with doors. This will protect items from dust and damage.

* Never place fine or antique crystal in hot water or in the dishwasher. The rapid increase in temperature may cause it to crack.

* Gently wash crystal objects in warm, soapy water. Rinse in clear water and dry with a soft cloth. Add white distilled vinegar during the rinse to give crystal a spotless shine.

* Before washing items, line the sink with towels or a plastic dish pan to prevent breaking.

* Persistent stains can be removed by soaking the object in water with a denture tablet. This will remove stains, spots and discoloration.

If your dining habits are casual, you might welcome a few tips on setting a formal table. Let's face it, dinner on a tray before the TV won't cut it for special days.

Here are some guidelines from Replacements Ltd., a Greensboro, N.C., firm that supplies obsolete, active and inactive china, crystal and flatware.

* Bread and butter plates are placed to the left and above the fork.

* Flatware should be placed in order of use, from outside in.

* Salad fork is placed to the left of the dinner fork.

* Knife is placed to the right of the plate, cutting edge toward the plate.

* Forks are placed to the left of plate, tines up.

* Spoons go to the right of the knife, inside bowls up.

* Butter spreader is placed diagonally on the butter plate.

* Dessert flatware is brought with dessert. In some cultures, dessert flatware is placed horizontally above the dinner plate.

* Napkins, whether simply folded or sculpted into a fanciful shape, are placed under the fork or on the dinner plate.

* Stemware goes at the right above the knife.

* Stemware can be arranged in a row from tall to short (iced tea or water goblet, wine, champagne, sherbet) with the tallest stem placed just above the knife. Stemware also can be grouped together.

For information, write to Replacements Ltd., 1089 Knox Road, P.O. Box 26029, Greensboro, N.C. 27420-6029, or, call (919) 697-3000 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

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