We all like to think we know how to behave at the dinner table, most of us remember our mothers insisting on good table manners. But perhaps it doesn’t hurt to have a quick refresh to remind us how to behave when at dinner.
Devices off the table
If you are dining out with someone, your phone is not invited. Put it in your bag or out of sight and on silent.
When you sit at the table, place your napkin on your lap. Don’t tuck it into your collar unless you are eating something extremely messy (spaghetti) or you eat like a toddler. A napkin hanging from one’s collar is never an elegant look. If you leave the table loosely fold your napkin and place it to the left of your plate.
Knives and Forks
We all know to work from the outside utensils to the inside utensils when at a multi-course dinner. But, please also remember to never put a used knife or fork back on the table. Rest it on your plate. When you are finished remember to put your knife and fork together across your plate. This is a sign to the server that your meal is finished and they can remove your plate.
Know which is yours
Your bread plate is on your left. Your glass is on your right. Don’t get this mixed up.
Wait for all the food to arrive at the table to eat. But if your guest’s food arrives before yours, you can suggest they may eat to avoid it getting cold.
Ignore small indiscretions
If you or someone else accidentally drops some food on the table, spills a little wine or, heaven forbid, burps during a meal, ignore it. Polite society dictates that we do not draw attention to small faults at a table. So no giggling or gasping allowed.
The more formal the less hands
At a formal meal you should only use your hands to eat bread. Everything else should be eaten with the appropriate utensil.
At the risk of sounding like your mother here are a few more reminders
- Food to mouth – not mouth to food. Do not lean over and shovel food in your mouth.
- Eat with your mouth closed; talk with your mouth empty.
- Remember to say please, thank you and excuse me
- Do not double dip.
- Keep elbows off the table and arms in close to your side.
Last, but by no means, least, always thank your host at the end of the meal and compliment them for hosting such a lovely evening.
Keep your manners refreshed and you will avoid feeling ill at ease in a formal dinner setting and prevent drawing unwelcome attention due to poor table etiquette.