While each hostess follows her own inclination in the details of serving, there are certain rules that are always observed:
Cold foods are served on cold dishes; hot foods on hot dishes.
Dishes offered to a guest are passed to the left of the guest; other dishes are placed to the right of a guest, except when a plate is placed at the same time a soiled or served plate is removed, it is then placed at the left. Plates are removed from the right when possible.
When the Russian style of serving is observed, the following plan of removing and placing plates at the close of a course is followed:
The maid carries the clean or served plate of the following course in her right hand and goes to the left of the guest. She removes the soiled plate of the course just concluded with her left hand and then places the empty or served plate before the guest with her right hand. She then goes to the kitchen or pantry with the soiled plate, returns with a clean or served plate, and proceeds as before.
In following the English style in serving plates, the maid first places the dish to be served (the platter of meat, for example) in front of the host. Then an empty plate is placed before the host. The maid then gets another clean plate, returns to the left of the host, takes up the served plate in her left hand, and places the empty plate before him. She then places the served plate before one of the guests from the right side. Again she goes to the left of the host, places a plate before him, and proceeds as before.
At the end of a course, remove the dishes of each cover, then such dishes as the platters and tureens, and finally the crumbs. All dishes belonging to a particular course should be removed at the end of that course. Soiled dishes are always unsightly; hence care should be taken to remove them in the neatest way. Plates should not be piled on top of one another. When the dinner plate, the bread-and-butter plate, and the side dishes are to be removed, the smaller dishes (bread-and-butter plates and side dishes) should be removed on the serving tray. The larger plates may be removed one at a time, and an empty or service plate may be put in the place of each. If no empty or service plate is to be placed for the next course, two soiled plates may be removed at the same time, one in each hand.