No matter what the occasion may be, knowing proper table etiquette is always helpful. Whether it be a casual dinner with friends and family or a formal event, it's helpful to know the rights and wrongs and the ins and outs when sitting around the table. There have been times when I was not 100% sure as to when to eat, how to get the side dish I wanted without reaching across the table, and ask a question without interrupting. Now that I have learned some of the prime tips to having proper table etiquette, I would love to share the knowledge!
1. Napkin Goes Immediately on Your Lap
As soon as you take your designated seat at the table, remove the napkin from the place setting, and place it in your lap. Although it’s comedic when seen a movie, it is not necessary to shake the napkin open. Just gently open the napkin and place it on your lap. That way it’s not too much of a distraction. The napkin should hold its place in your lap for the duration of the meal. Try avoid using the napkin as a tissue for your nose. It’s a major no-no!
2. Liquids on Right, Solids on Left
Have you ever wondered which plate is which or which utensil goes where? Well just think, drink to your right, eat to your left. Basically, any food dish to the left is yours, and any glass to the right is yours. When you are dining formally, the place setting will be placed for you. It does in fact get confusing as to which fork to use first and which knife to use first. The silverware is placed in order of use so that if you remember the rule to work from the outside in, you will be A-Okay. Don’t sweat it!
3. Wait until All Are Served
As hungry as you may be, when the food arrives remind yourself that everyone is hungry so just wait patiently to dig in until all are served. Once the waiter or waitress places the meals in front of everyone and everyone is satisfied with what he or she is served, that is when it is time to indulge and enjoy. If at a private dinner party, just wait until your host or hostess picks up their fork to eat. Once the host or hostess picks up his or her fork, that is the OK for you to do the same.
4. Arrive Early, Never Late
The most important tip is to never arrive late! Try arriving at least 10 minutes early unless otherwise specified. For example, a surprise party may require specific timing so just be aware and conscious of the time. Even though it takes much thought and has a set of rules, dining is supposed to be pleasurable. If you arrive late and seem all rushed, the meal has already started off on an unpleasant note. Let the experience be a fabulous one and just simply arrive when planned.
5. Do Not Stretch across the Table
When wanting to pass food or get food, do not stretch across the table and cross other guests just to reach the food or condiments. Instead, just ask the person closest to the food or condiment to pass the item you would like. The food should be passed from the left to the right, but when with friends, this should be the least of the worries. Once the food is passed, make sure to place it down on the table before serving yourself. In other words, never intercept a pass.
6. Chewing with Your Mouth Closed
Keep that mouth closed when chewing food. In simple terms, do not talk with food in your mouth. It is seen as rude and it is definitely unattractive to watch. Once you have chewed and swallowed, then it is the appropriate time to make conversation, but until then, just relish the meal. To steer clear of making a mess, eat in small bites and slowly. That way, you are able to chew with your mouth closed.
7. Electronics Should Be on Silent Mode or off
In a day and age where everything we do is done electronically it seems like a big deal to stop the usage of all devices during a meal, but it’s a must. Turn your phone off, to silent, or to vibrate before settling down at the table to eat. The meal may be with friends, family, or co-workers, no matter what, it is rude and impolite to answer your phone during a meal. Sharing stories, bonding, and making conversation is all part of table etiquette as well as dining etiquette. If you must answer a call, text, or e-mail, it is as simple as excusing yourself from the table!
Knowing proper table etiquette prior to a big meal will give you the comfort and confidence you need. You’ll be able to enjoy more, understand the craziness behind how a table is set, and why it’s necessary to follow a set of rules. It may take time and a few mistakes before finally getting the system to a T. Practice makes perfect so start with some small changes. Eventually you’ll be the perfect lady and teaching others! Do you have any suggestions to having perfect and proper table etiquette?