In my childhood home, we ate meals at the table (usually not the formal dining room, but at a table nevertheless) and used real plates and flatware. We weren’t fancy; that’s just how it was done in the 1960s and ‘70s. Many houses built now don’t have formal dinin rooms. People aren’t using them, they say. Formal dining rooms weren’t used that much decades ago, either. I’d beg my mom to let us have a regular, weeknight dinner in the formal dining room, and to use the good china for no reason. But that did not fly at our house.

It’s no wonder young people don’t understand place settings.

A survey by the home improvement company Porch found one third of millennials were not able to identify a butter knife.

Given climate change, racism, gender inequality and the state of the economy, among other issues, millennials have a lot more to worry about than which fork to use.

However, I would be neglecting my duties as an old Southern woman if I didn’t at least expose the younguns to the basics.

To the left of the dinner plate are forks. From the inside out, you’ll find dinner fork, then salad fork. They might be on top of the napkin or the napkin might be to the left.

  • To the right of the dinner plate, from inside out, are the dinner knife, tea spoon and soup spoon.
  • NOTE: You use these utensils from the outside in. That will help you remember.

    • Above the plate are dessert spoon and dessert fork.
    • To the left of the dessert utensils is a small plate and knife. Those are for bread and butter.
    • To the right, from inside out, are the water glass, red wine glass and white wine glass. Some place the water glass just beyond the knife’s tip.

    My house has a small dining area adjacent to the living room. But it is piled high with art supplies. I don’t remember the last time I ate a meal there.

    I sold my china because I had too many dishes and the china was too heavy and fancy. Sometimes, I use paper plates, but I usually use my dishes because I don’t want to generate as much trash as regular paper plate use would create.

    I never had butter dishes and I just drink wine from regular glasses. It reduces the number of trips you have to make for refills.

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