When you are dealing with women or other forms of company such as in-laws there will be some need for gussying up whatever meal you have decided upon. In general women like to eat foods that looks neat and orderly. I know that when my wife fixes her plate she strictly avoids any mixing of foods. By the time I am done loading my plate, I may as well have made a casserole. This may mean setting the table and even placing a napkin beside the plate. It may mean going to the extreme of serving the vegetables and potatoes in a bowl.
If you are into this sort of thing, or are required by circumstance to indulge a relative or friend, there is one rule to remember: serve buffet style. If that proves impractical, the fork goes on the left with the fancy folded napkin. The knife and spoon go on the right. Water glass is on the right. Bread dish on the left. And if you haven't yet run out of room the plate goes in the middle of it all. The beer bottle, by the way, can be set on the floor next to your chair - back left leg. That way it is easy to grab when you lean back after wolfing down a plate of your own favorite dish.
I tend not to cook for many formal occasions. I have finally accustomed my wife to the idea that serving dishes are unnecessary and that food can be served directly from the pan. When my wife is not about I just eat out of the pan.
Women and Cooking
Tools of the Trade
Aprons n' Other Gear
Baking vs. Cooking
Alcohol at Mealtime
Preheating the Oven