It’s holiday season again and time for the parties to begin. There will be the usual round of business/social events including cocktail receptions, luncheons and dinners. Some will be stand up events; others will be seated. Whatever the venue, one thing you can count on is that there will be food and drink involved.
Now might be a good time to brush up on your dining etiquette. Whether you are eating in a restaurant, the corporate dining hall or in someone’s home (like the boss’s), your table manners will be an indication of your professionalism and your polish. It really does matter which fork you use, how you eat your bread and where you put your napkin.
If you follow these ten tips, you are sure to get through the meal with confidence and ease.
1. Managing your napkin: Your napkin comes off the table when everyone is seated. The dinner napkin is folded in half and placed in your lap with the crease facing your waist. It is used only for blotting your mouth. Never turn it into a multi-purpose item or use it as a handkerchief.
2. Starting to eat: Wait until your host has raised his fork before you pick up yours. If he stops with fork in mid-air, you can proceed to take your food to your mouth. It is a matter of who raises their fork first, not who begins chewing first.
3. Using the correct utensil: Forks are on the left and knives and spoons are on the right. Begin with the utensil that is the farthest from your plate and work your way from the outside in.
4. Spooning your soup: Soup is usually the first course and is always spooned away from you to the far side of the bowl and then brought back to your mouth. Drink your soup from the side of the spoon. Don’t put the entire spoon in your mouth.
5. Breaking your bread: When eating bread, tear off one small piece at a time. The bread and butter knife is to butter the bread, not to cut it.
6. Placement of used utensils: Once you have used a piece of cutlery, it never goes back on the table. You rest it on your plate. Knives are always placed at the top of the plate with the blade facing in and forks are put in the lower right hand corner of the plate when you are resting between bites. When you have finished your meal, place the knife and fork together with their handles in the lower right hand corner of the plate.
7. Cutting your food: Cut one piece at a time. Place that piece in your mouth, then cut another. It is not as simple as when your mother used to do it for you all at one time.
8. Removing unwanted objects from your mouth: If you have something in your mouth that you cannot swallow, remember this tip. The item comes out the same way it went in. If it went in with a fork, it comes out with a fork. If it went in a spoon, it comes out with a spoon. If it went in with your fingers, it comes out with your fingers. That’s the rule.
9. Finding the right glass: Your glassware is always to the right of the place setting. If you happen to be left-handed, resist the urge to move your glass to the left side. That will totally confuse the person on your left.
10. The end of the meal: The host is the one who signals that the meal is over by rising from his chair and placing his napkin back on the table. If he sits there all night, you do too.
You can learn more about holiday etiquette by purchasing my inexpensive e-book “Business Etiquette For The Holidays“. Happy Holidays!
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.