Hundreds of etiquette rules have been developed over the years to guide our society in acceptable ways of dining. While some of the rules may be outdated, there are still so many that apply to the way that we live today. Once you figure out how stringent you will be when running your household, your family members will adapt and learn what behavior is expected not only in your home, but when they are out with others.
When children practice proper table manners at home, it becomes a very natural habit for them. And, good manners will only enhance their personal and professional lives.
Is there ever a time to rest elbows on the table?
This is tricky. I told my sons absolutely not; however, it really is acceptable between courses while no food is being served. Maintaining good posture at the table is important and should be encouraged. Slouching just looks sloppy.
May I cut my steak up all at once?
Please do not. Your meal should be cut up as you are eating it: one bite at a time. You should cut it into small bite–sized pieces. Also, remember to take a bite or two of the side dishes while enjoying the main course.
Does the beverage go to the left or to the right?
The rule goes: Eat to your left, drink to your right. So, when you are seated at a dinner party, your drink is on the right side of the place setting and the bread and butter plate is on the left.
I taught my sons to make the “OK” sign with both hands to create a “b” on the left and a “d” on the right. (Pictured above.)
What if rolls are passed and there is no bread and butter plate?
If there is no plate, just place it on your large dinner plate.
Should I eat everything on my plate?
Although that certainly makes every hostess feel great, it is not always possible. It is polite to eat a little of everything that is served unless you have an allergy or a very good reason to avoid certain foods. If you cannot eat a particular item, move it around a bit on your plate and try not to make an issue of the problem. And, when you are someone’s guest, please do not request something different than what the hostess is serving.
What if the table is set for wine and I don’t drink it?
Do not turn the glass over yourself. You may let the server pour wine and not drink it or you may make a gesture with your hand that you do not care for any.
How do I eat soup?
“Just as little ships sail out to sea, I will dip my soup away from me.” I know you must have heard this rhyme! It is the easiest way to teach a child (and some adults) the proper way to eat soup. Also, you sip from the side of the spoon and never put the spoon directly in your mouth. (When eating dessert, the rule is different: The spoon, which should be smaller, would go directly into your mouth.)
Is it rude to season my food?
It is polite to taste your food before you add salt or pepper. And remember to always pass the salt and pepper together.
Other helpful hints…
Being polite is easy: Kindness always trumps the rules.
Again, thanks for reading.