A Table Manners Review
Giving yourself a table manners review once in a while is a helpful exercise. Even the most etiquette-ful among us can benefit from a refresher course. But if you are like me, being out of practice during the isolation of the past couple years has left room for memory’s overestimation of what we think we know.
Now that we’re becoming more social again, I thought it might be fun to restate and review some of the important practices of dining.
Courteous Behavior is Always Expected
Think of dining skills as social skills and your table manners as acts of civility. Family dinners and business affairs are planned around sharing food together.
Socially or in business, the following marks of courteous behavior are always expected at a dining event.
- RSVP promptly and mark your calendar.
- Be on time for the event.
- Say thank you. The table is a place of appreciation: for the graciousness of the host, for the delicious food, the fact that you’ve been included in the event and, at the end of dinner, your gratitude for a wonderful time.
- Include others by speaking to the persons on your right or left. A diner’s role is always to help others feel comfortable.
- Take cues from the host and be your best self throughout.
“The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all the other accomplishments of polite society.”
~ Judith Martin (aka "Miss Manners")
A Table Manners Review Checklist
Whether you are a guest, a host, or dining out at a restaurant with friends or family, table manners are about the socially acceptable way to go about eating food when dining with others. Demonstrating good table manners shows respect for the people around you.
The following ten-item list will be helpful for your own table manners review.
- Sit as your host directs.
- Follow the lead of the host by placing the napkin on your lap, and again, following the lead of the host, place your napkin back on the table at the end of the meal. Avoid reaching, whether it’s for food or a handshake. Eye contact and a nod of the head will suffice.
- Never place a used utensil on the table and never let your utensils hang off your plate.
- Wait for everyone to be served before eating.
- Remind yourself ever so often to sit up straight and tall.
- Cut sandwiches and burgers before eating with your hands. This helps make them less messy.
- Remember that beverages are placed on the right side and bread plates are on the left side of the main plate. From left to right: BMW (Bread, Meal, Water) means that the bread plate will be on the left, meal courses will be served in the center space, and water and other drinks will be served on the right side of your plate.
- Take small bites so you can easily participate in conversation and avoid managing food when your mouth is full.
- Engage in curious and respectful conversation.
- Employ the kind words of “please” and “thank you” and always be kind to the servers.
Being mindful of your table manners will make the practice of eating with others sociable and enjoyable. A table manners review from time to time will help keep this front of mind. You might also review the above checklist when traveling to other countries, applying it to a given culture.
Regardless of where you are, your excellent dining skills will be noticed and well-regarded as a sign of your appreciation and respect.
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