Good manners at the dining table not only make the dining experience memorable but also show respect for your fellow diners and hosts. From a social event to a business dinner, casual to formal, practicing good dining etiquette is always important. Here are the top 10 table manners to keep in mind to show off your best self at the table.
1. Mouth closed while chewing:
When eating, chew your food with your mouth closed to avoid making noises that may disturb others. It’s a simple yet essential courtesy that shows consideration for those around you. Imagine you have a zipper that closes your lips while food is in your mouth. Breathe through your nose and only when the food is swallowed, would you open your mouth to speak or take another small bite (keyword small)!
2. Keep Your Phone Away:
In today’s digital world, it’s tempting to check your phone constantly. However, during meals, keep your phone tucked away or on silent mode. Engaging in conversation and being present in the moment will allow for an enjoyable experience. If you are expecting a call during the meal, tell the person at the beginning that you may receive an important call while dining, and if that is the case, you will only be a moment. If the call comes through during the meal, excuse yourself and take the call away from the table.
3. Holding your Silverware Properly:
Hold your utensils with the handle in the palm of your hand and your index finger along the top of the handle. Use your knife to cut food, and your fork to spear and lift food to your mouth. Avoid holding utensils like a pen or stabbing at food. To see what this looks like and watch this in action, click here.
4. Don’t Reach Across the Table:
If you need something that’s out of your reach, politely ask someone to pass it to you instead of stretching across the table. For example, “Can you please pass me the bread” is a polite way to ask for something, noting the use of “please” and then saying “thank you” when it’s passed to you. Reaching can interrupt conversations and may lead to accidental spills or knocking over items. If you need to pass something around the table, we pass to the right.
5. Use Your Napkin:
Place your napkin on your lap when sitting down. Use it to dab your mouth or fingers as needed throughout the meal. If you need to leave the table temporarily, neatly place your napkin on your chair. When finished, place your napkin neatly to the left of your plate. Never put your napkin on top of the dirty plate, as it creates more work for the host or restaurant to clean the linens and can be seen as disrespectful. Watch how to do this here in this dining etiquette video.
6. Practice Good Hygiene:
Maintain good hygiene at the table by refraining from licking your fingers or using your fingers to wipe your mouth. Avoid picking or cleaning your teeth, brushing your hair, or grooming of any sort at the table. If you need to reapply makeup, for example, excuse yourself from the table and do so in the restroom or powder room.
7. Wait to Begin Eating:
Wait until everyone at the table has been served before starting to eat. If in a group and your plate has not come out yet, kindly insist the table begins while their food is still warm. If however your food has arrived and someone else is still waiting for their food, you should wait until their food comes before you begin. Only if they tell you to go ahead and begin, should you.
8. Take your time, but be mindful:
Avoid eating too quickly or too slowly. Pace yourself with the rest of the table, taking small bites and chewing thoroughly before swallowing. This allows for better digestion and contributes to a relaxed dining atmosphere. You want to enjoy your meal with your fellow diners! Only order another course if the majority of the table orders an additional course. For example, if you are at a table of 4 and the other 3 people are not ordering dessert, then you should not be the only person to order it and keep the rest of the table longer than needed.
9. Be in the moment!:
Mealtimes are not just about the food; they’re an opportunity for socializing and connecting with others. Conversating with your fellow diners allows you to enjoy your meal, but remember to keep discussions polite and appropriate for the setting. Try to leave politics or any topics that may be upsetting to someone at the table. Be sure to speak to people on both sides of you. After every course try and switch to someone on the other side of you to ensure everyone feels included.
10. Say “Please”, “Thank You” and “May I”:
Express gratitude to your host and anyone who serves you during the meal by saying “please” when requesting something and “thank you” when it’s provided. Showing appreciation demonstrates good manners to everyone at the table. When ordering at a restaurant, be sure to say “May I please order the chicken” instead of “Can I get the chicken” or “I’ll have the chicken.”
By practicing these top 10 table manners, you’ll not only navigate dining situations with ease but also leave a positive impression on those around you. Remember, good manners never go out of style! Enjoy!