While it is easy to fake it till you make it in other areas of being refined, the dining table is where you must bring your A-game, otherwise, all the rest will come undone. You cannot afford to mess at the dining table. So here are some basic dining etiquette tips and proper table manners that you should strive to observe when being hosted for dinner.

Dining Etiquette Tips for 2021

  • Wait for the host before you take your seat at the table. Sit up straight, don’t slouch.
  • Put the phone out of sight on silence mode to avoid disruption through incoming calls and notifications.
  • Place your bag behind your seat, or on an empty seat, or in a bag hook if there is one. Never on the table.
  • Once you take your seat, place the napkin on your lap. Don’t tuck into your collar.
  • Depending on the setting, work your way in through the utensils starting from the furthest.
  • Do not start eating before the host or before everyone else. That is uncultured. Also use the provided utensils, unless they are finger foods.
  • When you want a dish that is far from you, ask for it to be passed to you. Do not reach out for what you want across the table and people.
  • Pass bowls of food from the left to the right, so that whoever wants a serving can also get it.
  • When asked for salt or pepper, pass them both. Do not pass just one.
  • When eating, do not chew loudly, burp, slurp, and do pick your teeth using fingers.
  • Do not speak when chewing. Swallow first. Avoid asking others questions when they are chewing.
  • Pace yourself with others at the table as you eat. Do not eat too fast or too slowly.

Napkin Etiquette

After you have covered the above basics, you need to know what to do with your napkin. Napkins are an integral part of fine dining, and knowing what to do with them will show your refinement. After you read this next part on where to place it and how, how to use it during the meal, and where to place it when you go to the restroom, and after you are done with your meal, you should be well covered for your next formal dining.

Where and How to Place the Napkin

  • When you sit down, the first thing you should do is place the napkin on your lap. Not on one thigh but both, regardless of gender.
  • Gently unfold it; do not shake or flap it open. If the napkin is small, completely unfold it.
  • If the napkin is large, fold it in half. The fold should point towards your waist.

How to Use the Napkin During A Meal

  • Use it to gently blot your lips during the meal.
  • Whether or not you have lipstick on, blot your lips before taking a drink (water, wine, beverage) to avoid lip stains.
  • Do not tuck it into your collar.
  • Do not spit into the napkin.
  • Do not place it on the table during the meal.

Going to the Restroom

  • Excuse yourself without much detail, and leave the napkin on your chair. It should be loosely folded.
  • Place it in such a way that it will not soil the chair. The other guests should also not see the soiled part.
  • Do not place it on the table even when you go to the restroom.

When Leaving the Table

  • When you are leaving, after the meal (& coffee), pick up your napkin by its center and gather it loosely in a way that hides the soiled parts.
  • Place it on the table as such:
    a) If there’s a plate in front of you, place it to the left.
    b) If there’s none, place it at the center of your earlier setting.

Other Things You Should Know

  • If they are paper napkins, completely unfold and place two on your laps.
  • In very fine establishments, the napkin may be placed by a server on your laps.
  • If the utensils are wrapped in the napkin, unroll, place the fork to the left, the knife to the right, and the napkin on your lap.

Restaurant Etiquette: Where to Place the Bag

  • If it is small enough, you can place it on your lap and cover it with your napkin.
  • You can also put it between your back and the chair.
  • You can ask for an extra chair instead of putting it on the floor if it is a large bag. It is advisable to carry a small bag/purse if you are going for dinner.
  • Do not check in your bag at the coat check area, as you can easily lose your valuables.
  • Do not place it on the table.

See also: All About Wine – Beginner’s Guide 

The Difference Between American and Continental Dining Etiquette

American Dining Etiquette

  • To cut the food, the knife should be in your right hand and the fork in your left.
  • After cutting the food, place the knife at the top of the plate with its blade facing you.
  • Now use your right hand to hold the fork, and bring it to your mouth to eat.

Continental Dining Etiquette

  • To cut the food, the knife should be in your right hand and the fork in your left.
  • After cutting the food, don’t switch up the fork and knife from either hand.
  • With the knife still in your right hand, bring the food in the fork to your mouth.

The subtle difference may be confusing for some. With the American dining style, you have to switch your fork and knife between bites, while with continental dining you won’t.

For Both the Continental & American Styles

  • Do not use the side of your fork to cut the food.
  • Use your knife to get pieces of food onto your fork. Do not use your fingers.
  • Cut one bite at a time; only cut the next after the previous is in your mouth.

 Dining etiquette is not that hard to follow you just need to know what you need to do. So there you go elegant woman, practice proper table manners during the next dinner you are invited to, and let us know how it goes!


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