The one who is to wait on table must be careful to see that everything is in readiness before the meal is announced, so that she can do her work easily, without subjecting those at the table to unnecessary delay. She should have water, bread, and butter (if used), hot dishes ready for the hot foods, and dessert dishes conveniently at hand. She must see that her hands are perfectly clean and her hair and dress in order. A clean, neat apron will always improve her appearance. The room should be clean and neatly arranged.
If the meal is to be a family one and all are to sit at the table together, plates will be passed from one to another as they are served: but it will still be well to have one person appointed to wait on the table. She should be ready to supply more bread, water, etc., when it is necessary, and to change the plates for the dessert course. She should rise from the table quickly and quietly, in order not to disturb others, and should take her place again as soon as the necessary service has been rendered.
The following rules should be observed: Hold the tumblers near the bottom, being careful not to touch the upper edge. Fill only three-quarters full.
Put the butter on the table just before the meal is announced, and serve in neat, compact pieces.
Cut the bread in even slices, pile them neatly on a serving plate, and place it on the table, covering it with a clean napkin or towel, if there are flies about or there is danger of dust. If preferred, the bread may be cut at the table as required. Place the dessert dishes at one end of the table or, better still, on a side table, until it is time to use them. When carrying the dishes to and from the table, be careful not to let the fingers come in contact with the food. Learn to place the hand under the dish. In particular service a napkin is used between the hand and the dish, or a tray, if the dish is a small one. The tray should be covered with a napkin or doily.
When a dish is being passed, hold it at the left of the person to be served and at a convenient height and distance. Be sure that each dish is supplied with a spoon or a fork for serving, and turn the handle of the spoon or the fork toward the one to be served.
If a plate is to be placed in front of a person, set it down from the right. Never reach in front of others at the table.
When a course is finished, remove the dishes containing the food first; then the soiled plates, knives, and forks. Be careful to handle only a few dishes at a time and not to pile them. If another course is to be served, remove the crumbs from the table, using for the purpose a napkin and plate, or a crumb tray and brush, and brushing the crumbs lightly into the plate. Fill the tumblers, and arrange the dishes and forks or spoons quickly for the next course.
When the meal is over, the chairs should be moved back from the table, the dishes neatly piled and carried to the kitchen sink, the table wiped, the crumbs brushed from the floor, and the room aired.