LAYING THE TABLE FOR A FORMAL LUNCHEON AND SERVING IN DETAIL
THE formal luncheon is almost as popular a form of entertainment as the formal dinner. Usually the company is composed of women only ; men being rarely available at this time of day. The popular hour at which luncheon is served is half-past one, although one o'clock is sometimes chosen, especially if cards are to follow.
The table for a formal luncheon should be laid with a luncheon set, consisting of centerpiece and doilies, all of the same pattern, or with a luncheon cloth. The latter reaches to the edge of the table or hangs six or seven inches below.
Many people have made for their use, when entertaining, the round, adjustable table-top, at which many guests may be comfortably seated. The ordinary sized round table will not seat many, and as a round table has advantages over the square, oblong, or elliptical, these tops are of great convenience to a hostess. They are more expensive when veneered with mahogany, but if made of expensive wood, demand, of course, the use of the cloth.
The table should be rubbed first with a soft cheesecloth or chamois, then the centerpiece is placed, and on that such floral decoration as the hostess chooses. After the desired effect has been obtained, flowers should be removed to a cool place until they are wanted.
The question of the use of candles at luncheon is to be decided by the hostess. Artificial light should not be used unless necessary. If the room is dark, as is sometimes the case in city houses, one would better have lighted candles than a gloomy table; again, sometimes half the guests face windows where the glare of light is blinding, which affords occasion to draw the shades and use candles. There are times when artificial lighting is very much out of place, as on a pleasant day with sunshine flooding the room.
If a bare table is used, lay the correct number of plate doilies at equal distances around the table and place on each doily a service plate. The cover is then arranged according to previous directions, — • knives, spoons, and silver needed for the first course at the right, forks at the left, never laying more than three ; if more are needed, place when required. Place luncheon napkin (sizes thirteen to seventeen inches square, hemstitched or scalloped) folded in three-cornered shape, at left of forks. If the napkin has an embroidered letter, it should, be placed with the point toward the plate, or folded as in the illustration.
If it has no initial, place the long edge parallel to fork. Sometimes bread or a roll is placed in the fojds of a napkin or on it, but unless the service is limited, it is better to pass bread or rolls. Place the water glass at point of the knife, on a small doily ; an apollinaris glass for the serving of a " cup" on the same doily, to the right and a little below the water glass. The wine-glass, if wine is served instead of a "cup", should occupy the place of the apollinaris glass. Butter may be, but seldom is, served at luncheon. For salted nuts, either individual nut dishes or larger dishes are used. The individual dishes, already filled, are placed at the top of the plate (no doily) ; the large dishes with spoon are to be taken from the serving-table and passed. The cover is now complete, with the exception of the place card, which varies in style and design so much that the exact position for it must be decided by the hostess.
Sometimes favors are used and are placed either at the head of the plate or in groups around the centerpiece, with ribbons running from them to the plates. Salts and peppers are placed on doilies matching the set, between each two covers. Dishes containing candies are placed on doilies, wherever they look best on the table. The bonbon spoon should be on the table beside the dish, and when bonbons are passed, the dish is placed upon a tray and the spoon beside it.
MENU FOR FORMAL LUNCHEON
This luncheon, if for eight or more covers, requires the service of two waitresses. One waitress serves the hostess first, then serves in turn to the right, going half-way round the table. The second waitress * " starts at a point directly opposite the hostess and proceeds to the right. Exception must be made to the main or heavy course, when the head waitress serves the meat, beginning with the hostess, to every one at table, and the second waitress follows with the first vegetable. The first waitress then passes the second vegetable, and the second waitress follows with rolls. When the luncheon is for many covers, the service may be made more prompt if two dishes of everything are prepared, each waitress attending to her side of the table only.
Before luncheon is announced, be sure that the finger-bowls, garnished and one fourth full of tepid water, are ready on the serving-table if possible, or on a shelf just inside the pantry door. There is a wide range of choice in the garnish for finger-bowls. A few petals from the flowers used in decoration, roses, carnations, violets, nasturtium flowers and leaves, a spray of mignonette, sweet-scented leaves of rose geranium or lemon verbena, Japanese flowers which open and float when thrown into water, are all used. A few drops of rose or violet water are sometimes added. Wire rims may be bought to attach to the rims of metal finger-bowls, and flowers arranged in them to form a wreath. A finger-bowl which may be presented afterwards as a favor is a small glass tray with flower-holder ; this may hold few flowers and a miniature Japanese fish or floating water-fowl.
The coffee-service should be in readiness on serving- table or sideboard. Have ready a small napkin and a plate for removing crumbs from the table and have all serving silver, serving napkins, and filled water pitcher at hand. If room can be found upon the serving-table for the dessert plates, put them there before luncheon is served. If not, bring them to serving-table, before placing upon the luncheon table, as this plan saves many steps to pantry. As all formal dinners and luncheons are served from the side, the only edibles to be placed and remain upon the table are the salted nuts and the candies ; often not even these are there, although the candies usually add a desirable touch of color.
Before going to the table, some hostesses serve in the drawing-room a light cocktail accompanied by sandwiches or small wafers.
The first course of a formal luncheon is usually attractive in appearance and is laid on the service plate just before luncheon is announced. The placing of it before or after the guests come to the dining- room is a matter of personal preference. If this course is a fruit cocktail, the arrangement would be to place the glass filled with the fruit on a small plate fitted with a doily, with the spoon on right-hand side of plate, then place on the service plate. If lobster or scallop cocktail is served in place of fruit, the arrangement is the same, substituting an oyster fork for the spoon.
SERVICE FOR A FORMAL LUNCHEON IN DETAIL
If one prefers to serve coffee at the table, as is sometimes done, the maid exchanges the dessert plate for the finger-bowl service. Then she places coffee at the right and passes sugar and cream. The finger- bowl is removed by guest, and the plate used for bonbons which the maid passes last.
On some less formal occasions, coffee might be poured by the hostess at the table. In this case the service is brought to the hostess as the dessert course is being finished. The maid places a cup of coffee at the right of each guest and passes sugar and cream ; after which she replaces the dessert plate with the finger-bowl service and passes bonbons