Table manners have evolved over centuries to make the practice of eating with others pleasant and sociable. However, it can get overwhelming with so many table manners to keep track of, but not to worry, you don’t have to put pressure yourself to get it all at once. You can pick it one at a time and eventually, practice will bring perfection.
Below are basic, but important, table manners to keep in mind as you eat:
- Chew with your mouth closed.
- Keep your smartphone off the table and set to silent or vibrate. You can wait to check calls and texts until you are finished with the meal and away from the table.
- Hold utensils correctly. Don’t use your fork or spoon like a shovel or stab your food.
- Wash up and come to the table clean. Don’t groom or attend to hygiene at the table.
- Remember to use your napkin. Place your napkin on your lap upon being seated and keep it there until you have completely finished eating.
- Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink.
- Pace yourself with fellow diners. Cut only one piece of food at a time.
- Avoid slouching and don’t place your elbows on the table while eating (though it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses).
- Instead of reaching across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.
- Bring your best self to the meal and take part in the dinner conversation.
- Do not order the most expensive items on the menu unless you are specifically told that it is okay to do so. Likewise, do not order an alcoholic drink unless your host does first. Should they choose to, it is acceptable for you to also have one but etiquette dictates that you should limit yourself to just that one. Should a server arrive at the table and ask you before the host has ordered, you can mention that you are still deciding.
- While eating, be sure to slice food pieces small enough that you can eat what is on your fork in one bite. Do not leave half of the food on your utensil.
- Never comment negatively about the food that is being served in someone’s home, but in a restaurant, you can mention what you would like changed so that you can enjoy your meal, especially as it pertains to items that are under cooked or overcooked.
- Try to visit the restroom if necessary upon arrival, before the meal begins or after all food has been cleared from the table. It is poor etiquette to leave the table in the middle of a meal. Only do so if it is an emergency.
- When leaving the table, remember to push in your chair.
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