Meal times are a great way to connect with others and for special occasions.
There’s something about gathering together at a table which is intimate. It’s a great way to get to know others, meet people for the first time or to spend quality time with family. In this article, we’re exploring the best table manners you can adopt. Let’s take a look at our top tips.
Our Top Tips for Table Manners Made Easy
All dining experiences should be about the food and the people. Don’t bring any distractions with you. This includes phones. Leave them out of the room, and preferably on silent. Don’t use it at all because that implies you are more interested in your device than in the people around you. You might be wondering if table manners really matter. Or, are they just for new situations and when you’re around people you don’t know? This is not the case at all. It’s important that our children learn how to properly and respectfully eat at the table for their future.
Let’s take a look at our top tips for table manners and how to adopt them into your daily dining.
1. When to Start Eating
One of the best ways to demonstrate excellent table manners is waiting until all guests have their food before you begin eating. If there is two to four people sat at a table, wait until everyone has been served their food before starting to eat. On the other hand, at a formal meal, you should wait until everyone is served. Or begin when the host instructs you to.
If you are at a buffet-style eatery, ensure you pass to the right. This isn’t the case if you’re passing the food to a particular person. Any heavy or awkward dishes should be put on the table with each pass. Passing bread is another important table manner. If the loaf is not cut, cut a few pieces, offer them to the person to your left, and then pass the basket to your right. Don’t touch the loaf with your fingers. Instead, use the clothe in the bread basket as a buffer to steady the bread as you slice it. Place the bread and butter on your butter plate - yours is on your left - then break off a bite sized piece of bread, put a little butter on it, and eat it.
2. When Finishing Your Meal
Another of the most important table manners to consider is how and when you leave the table/room after eating. Professionally staff will remove plates at a formal event. However, at most informal meals, the hostess clears the plates. Often, two guests will help to take the empty plates out. For a family meal, members should clear their own plates. When dinner is concluded, the hostess will make eye contact with the host. They’ll lay their napkin on the table and suggest that everyone heads to another room for after-dinner drinks such as coffee. At this point, the hostess rises from their chair.
When it’s time to say good, make the departure brief and friendly, rather than detaining the host from the room for a long time. Also, it’s considerate to wait until others have finished their meals before leaving the table/room. If you’re in a rush and suddenly need to head off, politely apologise for leaving the table. Do so in a quiet manner. It’s important that you don’t make huge noises and disturb others whilst eating. Also, carefully tuck your chair underneath the table by lifting it up, rather than scraping it on the floor. Finally, say your goodbyes and then stand up. Messing with your chair and speaking at the same time is rude and causes disturbances.
3. Consider the Table Setting
The table setting is another important factor in creating the correct table manners. Follow the outside-in rule. Use utensils on the outside first and work your way inward. For example, if you are served a salad first, use the fork set to the far left of your plate. This means that the table becomes clearer and neater throughout the duration of your courses. Your water glass should be above the knife in the plate setting, along with the bread plate to the left. In order to remember which bread plate belongs to you, touch the index finger on your right hand to your right thumb. The “b” formed by your left hand is for “bread”. The “d” formed by your right hand is for “drink” (your drinking glasses are always at the right of your place setting).
Place your knife and fork on your plate near the center, slightly angled in an inverted V and with the tips of the knife and fork pointing toward each other. For an American style, rest your knife on the top right of your plate (diagonally) with the fork nearby (tines up). Finally, when you’ve finished your course place the knife and fork parallel with the handles in the four o'clock position on the right rim of the plate.
4. Dress Appropriately
Don’t just wear anything to dinner if it’s an important occasion. Think about how has invited you for dinner. By knowing the context, you’ll have a good idea of what to wear. For example, in summer months, jeans will be too hot, so consider wearing thinner materials. Remove your tie and dress elegantly casual. Also, never assume that your partner and/or children are invited to the dinner too. It might be rude to ask who’s invited, but perhaps you could ask others who is coming. Take a moment to look at the guest list. This will help you determine if it’s an occasion for family/friends, or not.
When you look through the guest list, it’s a great way to consider potential topics to talk about. Of course, this is only really necessary if you’re spending time with new people. Or perhaps it’s a formal event and you need to gather your thoughts prior to the dinner.
5. Food in Your Mouth
You don’t want to be the person who eats with their mouth open. Therefore, ensure that you take quiet and small mouthfuls to not expose your food to others. This is one of the worst table manners you could adopt. To remove unwanted food from your mouth, use a utensil. Remove it in the same way you ate the food. This goes for all types of food – including pits or bones. Also, do so in a discreet manner to not disturb others. Try to do so when the attention is on something else to avoid people looking at you.
What Table Manners Have We Missed?
We hope you enjoyed reading about the most important table manners. Regardless of your age, background or salary, table manners are essential for numerous reasons. Firstly, they make others at the table feel comfortable. Think about how many times you’ve felt uncomfortable eating next to someone with bad manners. Secondly, good table manners keep us knowing what we’re doing. You don’t want to accidentally drink someone’s drink or eat their food.
From the list above, have we missed any important table manners? If so, share your advice in the comments. Alternatively, share some tips to add good table manners to your daily routine.
Related Article: Must Follow Dining Etiquette for a Good First Impression