There’s never a better time to brush up on your table manners than during the holiday season.
Regardless of the formality of your meal, bypassing basic dining skills is never a polite option. From a professional setting to lunch with your family, you’ll feel better when your table manners are up to par.
Demonstrate your best etiquette with these fundamental tips:
1. Learn how to properly set the table (see diagram.)
Although the artistry of the setting is an important feature, a properly set table is designed for practicality. Each eating utensil is efficiently placed to eliminate confusion.
Glassware is conveniently positioned for different beverages and utensils are placed to work from the “outside in.”
The centerpiece is low to see the person across from you. A good rule of thumb is to keep table decorations under 12 inches.
2. Know when and where to place your napkin.
Dinner napkins are placed on the lap with the fold toward the waist, while luncheon napkins are smaller and remain open.
When excusing yourself during the meal, put the napkin on the seat of the chair. At the end of the meal, the napkin is placed on the left side of your dessert plate.
3. Grasp the “D and B” concept.
Drinks are set on the right side of the place setting and the bread plate on the left. Knowledge of this placement resolves the confusion of which is yours and which is your neighbor’s. Make a “D” and “B” with your finger and thumb to remind yourself … under the table please!
4. Spoon the soup away from the body.
To avoid the risk of drips and spillage, spoon in the opposite direction of your body.
5. A man’s tie stays in place.
Not only does a tie slung over the shoulder make for a shabby look, but it’s both unsophisticated and unprofessional.
6. Cut one bite at a time.
Dissecting an entire plate of food all at once is untidy. Glide the knife behind the fork to cut each piece and don’t over-fill your mouth. Between bites, place your knife and fork down in the proper “Rest/Finish” position. For a visual representation of Resting and Finished positions, click here.
7. Wait for food to cool down on its own.
Take brief pauses and make conversation while allowing the food temperature to drop slightly. Should you find yourself with a mouthful of steaming soup, reach for your water glass and take a drink to let your mouth cool down. Also refrain from adding ice to soup and mixing the food in swift circles.
8. Avoid gesturing with eating utensils.
If you’re an energetic conversationalist and tend to “talk with your hands,” take heed. Place your utensils on your plate when considering effusive animation.
9. Think of the salt and pepper as committed partners and always pass them together.
If someone asks for only one spice, simply pick them both up and pass them as a pair. It’s not necessary to offer an etiquette tutorial on the reason why you’re sending them as one unit.
10. Pass the food counter-clockwise.
It’s standard to pass everything counter-clockwise to provide order at the table. Additionally, when passing the bread basket, take only one roll to guarantee there will be enough for everyone.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may also like Dining Etiquette: The Art of a Mannerly Business Meal. Read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on The Huffington Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.