The Importance of Good Manners While Dining
13 Ways To Make a Good Impression at the Table
Read on for a primer of a dozen ways to improve your table manners instantly.
Forget "You are what you eat." You are how you eat. Dining with good manners is an important way to make a great lasting impression, as well as a way to ensure that you’re invited again.
- There's no such thing as being fashionably late, only unfashionably tardy! An eight o'clock invitation to an intimate dinner party means eight o'clock, which allows time for cocktails and a sit down dinner at eight forty-five.
- Dine as quietly as possible. Chew with your mouth closed and don’t slurp when you drink.
- Only use your utensils for eating. The knife is not a laser pointer nor should it ever touch your mouth – no knife licking! If you're not taking food from your plate to your mouth, your utensils should be resting on the dinner plate.
- A fork is not a forklift. Don't load up your utensils with large amounts of food and shovel it into your mouth. This is not a Coney Island eating contest.
- Take smaller portions. When dining buffet-style, avoid ‘vulture syndrome’ and don’t load up your plate. It’s more elegant to take smaller, more civilized portions and make another trip to the buffet if you’re still hungry.
- Excuse yourself to blow your nose. Instead of blowing your nose at the table, walk to the bathroom or a private area.
- Put your cell phone away. Unless someone is ill or you are a physician on call, there is no need to have a cell phone at the dinner table. If you need to make an urgent call, make it either before or after sitting down. If a real emergency occurs during dinner, excuse yourself and walk to another room to place the call.
- Wash your hands before sitting down for a meal. It is much more sanitary to dine with clean hands. There's nothing worse than noticing someone's filthy nails while you're eating.
- Be polite even if the food served doesn't fit within your diet. If you have dietary restrictions that you have not communicated to your host, keep your explanation short. Simply tell the host you're sorry, you recently became a vegetarian and no longer eat beef, then ask for a larger portion of the other selections if possible. Take responsibility for not informing your host of your dietary restrictions earlier.
- Finish chewing and swallowing before speaking. Never talk with food in your mouth. Never!
- Allow other guests to finish before speaking. This may not have to do with your table manners, but avoiding interrupting people during conversations is polite and respectful.
- Ask your tablemates to pass anything you need. Don't reach past your neighbor at the table. If you need someone to pass the salt or wine, ask the closest diner for it to be passed to you.
- Practice utensil Morse code. When you have finished eating, place your utensils parallel to each other across your plate, with the handles at the 4 o’clock position and the knife blade and fork tines resting close to the plate's center. This silently informs your server that you are done eating and your plate can be removed.