Mind Your Manners! A Quick Guide to Table Manners
The bird is cooked, the hostess took her apron off, and you're finally allowed near the perfectly set dinner table. There are flowers, and candles, and tablescapes, and cloth napkins. And more than one fork... Let's refresh our table manners:
1. Find your designated seat and sit down. If there are placecards, do not rearrange – your location has been carefully thought out. Unfold the napkin and put it on your lap. Keep your hands off the table and don't touch anything until everyone else is seated.
2. Do not start eating until everyone is seated and the food has been served to everyone. A good tip is to wait for the head of the table to start eating, then you know you're good to go.
3. Utensils rule: start from the outside in. They're sat out in order of the course, follow this rule and you will hold a proper utensil for the corresponding course. You hold your knife with your right and fork with your left. Do not stab your food, it's already dead.
3. Chew with your mouth closed.
4. Only cut the bite you're going to eat.
5. If soup is served, tilt the bowl slightly away from you as you get toward the end of soup to help you spoon.
6. Slurping and other bodily sounds while eating at not acceptable.
7. If you need to get up, place the napkin on the table next to your plate not on the chair.
8. Give equal conversation time to persons sitting at your left and your right.
9. Do not talk with your mouth full.
10. Do not make negative comments about the food being served. I'm sure there will be something you will be able to eat, even if you're a fruitarian. Or you can pretend you're Gwyneth Paltrow and simply move your food around the plate.
11. Keep your elbows off the table. It is OK to rest your elbows while conversing between courses.
12. Dirty utensils stay on the plate, not the table cloth. If you don't know what to do with your knife, rest it on your plate.
13. If you can not reach something, ask for it to be passed instead of reaching across the table and several guests to get it.
14. Do not slouch. Right posture actually aids in digestion.
15. Say "excuse me" if you need to get up.
16. Do use your napkin.
16. Thank your hostess for the lovely meal once it is finished.
A side note: not every hostess likes help with cleaning up. So before you start grabbing dishes off the table and depositing them all over her kitchen, ask if she would like some help. If she says "no", take your after dinner aperitif and get out of her way. If she declined your help, she does not want you lingering in her kitchen.