Barneblad: Til bords! At the table!

Set the table like a diplomat for your family, friends, and honored guests

Til bords

Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

Sharing dinner around a table with our family is one of the joys of daily life—and one of the most important daily activities—but creating a beautiful table is also an art. 

Even for everyday dinners, it’s important that everything is put in place, but when company is coming, it’s even more important. We want our friends and guests to feel welcome, especially if it is a special occasion. 

And if you are entertaining an honored guest, you will want to make sure to set the table right.  

Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior, how we behave when we are together with others. While we sometimes meet with our families and friends in very casual situations, sometimes it is appropriate to rise to the occasion. 

A proper table setting and good table manners are essential for two reasons. One is to make others comfortable, and the other is for hygiene and health. We would never want to embarrass ourselves or someone else, and we would never want to make our guests sick by not being clean and careful, both in the kitchen and at the table.

Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB

Beautiful linens—a cloth tablecloth and napkins—are essential for a fancy dining experience. You may want to add a color table runner, and an arrangement of fresh flowers in a vase make the perfect centerpiece. Candles add ambience. You may want to choose a theme for your table, be it a holiday, birthday, or some other big day.

But fancy china, crystal, linens, and real silver are items for grown-ups to handle, so make sure the work is divided between adult and children accordingly. Kids can take care of the silverware and napkins without any danger of breaking something. 

It’s also fun to have your own fancy dinner for kids using less expensive or non-breakable dinnerware. It can be just as pretty, especially if you coordinate your colors to convey a special atmosphere.

Both in Norway and here at home, setting a beautiful table is very important for these special occasions. Fortunately, putting together beautiful table is an activity that your entire family can enjoy.

Table setting

If you follow the chart below (using the pieces you need for you particular dinner), you will be able to entertain your guests with the hospitality and style of a diplomat.


middagstallerken – dinner plate


forrettskniv – appetizer knife


serviett – napkin


suppeskje – soup spoon


salatgaffel – salad fork


dessertgaffel – dessert fork


middagsgaffel – dinner fork


teskje – teaspoon


brød og smør-tallerken – bread and butter plate


vannglass – water glass


smørkniv – butter knife


vinsglass – wine glass


spisekniv – main course knife


kaffekopp og fat – coffee cup and saucer

 This article originally appeared in the Feb. 26, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.