This is referred to as an “informal dinner” in order to distinguish it from the rigid formal, state dinner. Though it is more flexible and colorful, it can be very elegant. There are fewer individual courses. The salad can be a separate course either before or after the entrée or can be combined with the main course and served on a salad plate placed to the left of the dinner plate. Use any color tablecloth or placemats. Combine the centerpiece with candlesticks, candelabra or votive candles to enhance the color scheme. Place a pepper and a salt container on each side of the table that can be passed.


  • Appetizer
  • Soup
  • Salad
  • Main Course with vegetable and starch
  • Dessert and Coffee

Olives and celery may be passed during the soup course. Dressings and sauces may be passed with the appropriate course.

To allow guests an opportunity to move about between dinner and the dessert by setting up a buffet table with various desserts. Guests can select their dessert while the dinner table is being cleared and the coffee cups and cream and sugar are being placed on the table. When guests return to the table, they will be more relaxed and inclined to linger longer over coffee. Once the meal is completed, invite guests to return to the living room for conversation. Have a coffee service available in the living room as well.

Modified Formal Dinner Menu

Shrimp Cocktail

French Onion Soup

Spring Salad with Raspberry Vinegrette

Citrus Marinated Pork Chops Sautéed Green Beans in lemon butter Herbed Rice

Peach Melba