A person is known by the impression he or she creates. Dining etiquette and table manners play an important role in creating a desired impression. These serve as visible signs of the state of our manners, and are important for professional success too. Today dinner invites by the boss, a colleague, or friend are common occurrence and in these gatherings a large number of people are present and some of those may be highly important and you seriously would not want to make the impression of an uncivilized glutton. The need for etiquette and manners is so that you and the people you are with both are comfortable.
Just imagine if you are out for dinner and some person who is with you eats like a monger starved for ages and creates a mess, will you be even able eat your own meal ? I guess a very common answer would be ‘no’. Different countries have different set of table manners at times, in US you keep your hands of the table whereas in France you keep them on the table. So here are certain essential and important dining etiquette and manners, which apply in general:
10.Before the dinner:
If you have been invited to dinner then make sure you respond back to the person even if RSVP is not requested. This helps the person to plan and avoid awkward situations on the day. Do not ask if you can bring over extra guests if the invite is not meant for extended invitations. Though if a family is invited the children can be taken along but only if they are taught table manners and have been told beforehand to not create a ruckus out there. Or the outcome will certainly not be pleasant as humiliation is difficult to deal with specifically when it is public humiliation.
9.Carry a gift for the host or hostess
You should generally carry a gift to a formal dinner for the host/hostess, it does not mean you need to outdo everything. A small gift for generosity of the host for the dinner invite can be a bouquet , a bottle of wine , a starter, a desert which you have previously told the host about so that there is no clash with the menu confirmed as dinner parties at homes have a set menu ( fragmentation required) and your dish may not go with the course. Else your dish may not exactly be used during the meal. If you make it a surprise please do not create a scene or push the host regarding it. GIFTS ARE ALWAYS NICE TO RECEIVE.
8. Wait for the host to lead the way
If you are dining at a boss’s place or even a relative or friend and know your way through the house do not , quote “DO NOT” go on your own to the dining area , wait for the host/hostess to lead the way to you and the others present. This is because you may know the way around but the other guests do not and it disrupts the scene, and it may even create a slightly disturbed feeling for the host or hostess as they might not know you have already gone for dining area and things may get a bit antsy. It is also considered impolite.
7. Starting the dinner
Many times the host /hostess have a definite arrangement for sitting so sit according to the cards placed else you should ask if there is any sitting preference. But wait for the host to sit before you do. Many a times people pray before eating you can either join or stay silent. Sometimes a toast is raised before dinner, it is not necessary to clink some other person’s glass. If you do make sure it is a clink not a bang on collision, or you might land up with drinks on your clothes.
6. Placing of napkins
As soon as you are seated, remove the napkin from the place setting and unfold then place it on your lap, do not shake it open. The napkin rests there till the end of the meal. Do not clean cutlery, wipe hands etc with this .If you excuse yourself from the table place it on the left, right of your plate do not wad it up. At the end of the dinner place it semi folded on the left of plate setting; it should not be crumpled, twisted. PRESENT CAREFULLY.
5. Start eating
The dinner begins when the all the people are served and the host unfolds his/her napkin, the closure of the same signifies the end of dinner. Do not start eating until everyone has been served, if is a buffet then wait till there are people eating on your table. At a private party observe the host or hostess and pick up your fork when he or she does. BE PATIENT.
4. Utensils and silverware
One big issue is when to use which utensil for which purpose. A typical is to follow the hosts lead. Starting with knife, fork, spoon that is farthest from the plate, work your way towards the ones in centre, using one for each course. The knife is in the right hand, fork is in the left hand holding the food. If you take a drink put both the utensils down.
3. Passing the food and dishes
Pass food from left to right and vice versa, do not stretch across the entire table for the food. If another person asks for salt or pepper pass both together to avoid misplacing, orphaning of the shakers. Set the passed item on the table, not hand to hand, but do not make this noisy. You simply do not intercept a pass, if a person has asked and you are in the middle of passing from one to another you do not serve yourself with it in the middle. Use the serving utensils to serve not the ones you are using to eat. Always scoop using the correct utensil, away from you .Do not play with your food, or point using the silver ware, do not hold food with the fork when talking.
2. Eating and table manners
Do not talk with food in the mouth, this is very rude and annoying to watch. Always taste your food before seasoning it , the host/hostess have made a lot of effort in cooking , and you adding salt, pepper without even tasting is insulting to say the least. Do not blow your food for cooling it .Eat in small bites and slowly, eat a bit of all you have been served , if you can’t give a compliment , stay silent. Try to pace it with others, don’t literally finish when others are halfway through nor keep eating when everyone has finished. Keep your elbows off the table, try to mingle with everyone present, and do not clean the spills with your own napkin. Don’t make loud burping, slurping noises, these are seriously A SIN OF DINING ETIQUETTES.
Do not take calls on the table, if urgent politely excuse yourself from the table to attend it. Do not push the plates, chairs, etc.
If in a restaurant for dinner normally you should divide the bill, except when the host has declined do not create an issue over it.
1.Wait for the host to end it and say thank you
After finishing your meal, and placing your meal, wait for the host or hostess to signal the end of the meal and then stand. After the meal is over do not eat and run, if nothing is planned after dinner stick for atleast 30 minutes and then say goodbyes and leave, if informal relations then stay and atleast offer to help clean up. Always send your host or hostess a thank you note within a day or two about the dinner, it can be a call, mail, messages. It should be short but sweet.
That is all you really need to know about dining, and yes do not forget to follow the host or hostess lead.