The term "cover" means the space, with its china, silver, and glassware, allowed for each guest. At least twenty-two inches of space should be allowed for a cover.
The quantity of china on the table depends upon the occasion and the style of serving. In any form of service, the first course, if cold, may be placed on the table before the guests are seated. If the first course is a hot food, it is always placed on the table after the guests are seated. For informal occasions, and sometimes for formal occasions, the bread-and-butter plate is used. It is placed beyond the tines of the fork. Glasses are placed beyond the tip of the knife. A sugar bowl and cream pitcher, salts, peppers, etc., may also be placed on the table. A salt and a pepper shaker should be placed so as to be accessible to each two covers. Dishes containing olives or nuts are sometimes placed on the table before the guests are seated.
For breakfast, the coffeepot, hot-water pitcher, milk and cream pitchers, spoon tray, and cups and saucers may be placed so as to form a semicircle about the hostess's place. The coffeepot should be placed at the right, and the cups and saucers at the left. If tiles or stands for the coffeepot and hot-water pitcher are used, they should also be a part of the table service. A large tray may be used to hold all of the coffee service.
If the serving is to be done without a maid, it is advisable to place all the china, glass, and silver to be used for the meal either on the table or on the serving table.