Nov 15, 2012

Table Manners - A Simple List

I was recently asked to provide a list of good table manners.  Please note that the request and response is  based on western civilization, and more specifically, North American and the United States.  Here are some basic tips that may be used everyday.

Table Manners

  • Thank the host/hostess for the invitation
  • Before you begin to eat, please wait for everyone to be seated and the host/hostess to begin
  • Always keep your elbows off of the table
  • Place [and keep] your napkin in your lap
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Do not talk with your mouth full
  • Use proper utensils (salad fork, dessert fork, fish knife, soup spoon)
  • When passing food, remember to say please.  Pass counter clockwise or to the right helping yourself first
  • When passing salt, place it down next to the person asking for it.  
  • If some one asks you to pass an item, let it take a direct route without serving yourself first
  • Never reach over someone for a dish or item. Instead, ask them to please pass the item
  • When leaving the table, fold your napkin and place it in your chair
  • Don't slurp beverages and refrain from using a straw
  • Never use a toothpick at the table
  • When a lady is leaving the table, a gentleman should stand
  • When a lady is being seated at the table, a gentleman should stand
  • A gentleman may assist ladies by pulling out their chair, and assist her with positioning the chair towards the table
  • When dining out, never stack plates for the service staff -SEE - Restaurant Etiquette and Wines Plus How to Set the Table
  • When dining out, don't discuss the cost of the meal at the table
  • Compliment the host or hostess on the meal and table setting
  • Never insult the host/hostess by making derogatory comments regarding the meal (too salty, too hot, too cold, over done, under done, etc)

  • Engage in conversation while providing everyone the opportunity to collaborate and speak
  • When eating fried chicken, it is appropriate to use only one hand to pick it up; however, your other hand must use a fork to remove the chicken
  • When eating corn on the cob, it is appropriate to eat with your hand, but only use one hand and never both
  • When you are serving yourself butter, use a butter knife to take a small piece of butter.  Place the butter onto your plate and never directly on your food.  Then you may use your knife to take and spread the butter.
  • Do not feed animals from the table (guilty!)
  • Onto toasting - (1)You never drink to yourself, and you always thank the toaster afterwards. If the group is large, or it is a formal occasion, the toaster and toastee should each stand when they speak. In a formal setting, you never propose a toast before your host has done it. (If the host seems to have forgotten, ask her or his permission and then go for it.)  Never toast with water. It's unlucky. Toast with anything else, even an empty glass. (1) - Info provided from Huffington Post's Lynn Kasper
  • You may leave the table when everyone has fished the meal or when the host/hostess leave(s) the table.  Before you do, don't forget to thank them for a lovely meal.
The above table manners' list is just a sample for you to use as a reference and guide.  I encourage you to share and practice with your children, and be an great example.  Additionally, I have handpicked resources and placed them on my home page that provide details guides, best practices, and worksheets for your convenience.

For questions or comments, please send me an email @

I wish you the best,

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