Manners and Etiquette
Business Etiquette

How can you learn good table manners?



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Good Table Manners

  • The host and hostess (giving the dinner) generally sit at each end of the table. In some cases if there are grandparents or great grandparents and depending on the culture they will sit at each end of the table.
  • If the dinner is fancy and there will be soup, salad and a main course then the table should be set with dinner plate on bottom, salad plate on top of that and the soup bowl on top of the salad plate. Cutlery to each side of the plate with a napkin (sometimes people will put the napkin in the wine glass).
  • Don't start to eat until everyone is seated. Some people may say a prayer of thanks before eating and if you are a non believer at least bow your head. Don't simply just 'dig into the food!' The host and hostess are the ones that should pick up their knife and fork first to eat and everyone else follows suit.
  • Place your napkin on your lap and DON'T tuck it into the top of your dress, blouse or shirt.
  • If it's a fancy dinner then work from the outside in. Soup may be served first, then a salad and then the main course. When eating soup you cup the soup spoon (hollow side) away from you and scoop the soup up that way. No slurping! Then the smaller fork is used for the salad (and even perhaps a smaller knife depending on the salad.) The smaller knife is a 'butter knife' and can be used if buns are served. If the table is set properly there should be a separate plate for your bun. If there is no plate for the bun then putting the bun on your dinner plate is acceptable.
  • If wine is served it's usually served from the right or, if it's a simple family dinner the bottle is passed along the table. If you don't like wine then just say so. Water glasses with ice water should also be placed at the top of the dinner/salad plates.
  • Don't feel you have to eat everything that is given you. Say nothing, but pass the food (if not served by a maid) to the next person. If a maid or (if in a restaurant) a waiter/waitress is serving then just quietly say 'no thank you.' Don't take huge portions of food because you can always go back for seconds (if asked!)
  • When you finish your main course cross your knife and fork across your plate (this means you are finished.) If you aren't finished and would like more then place your knife and fork on the plate side by side. This is only used at wealthy banquets or at high end restaurants. When eating at someones home cross your knife and fork on the plate. The Hoestess will usually ask if you would like another portion of everything and if you want to then do so.
  • If eating with a family then offer to help clear the table or even do dishes.
  • Be sure you thank the host and hostess for the delicious meal.
  • A lot of the mannerisms that are expected of anyone while eating are mostly common sense really. Well, actually it's a little common sense and a little of learning from a good website. Act like a gentleman or lady, which ever the case.