Dining Etiquette

Dining Etiquette


  • Table Manners
  • Table Setting
  • Wine Etiquette
  • International Dining Etiquette
  • Business Dining


    For almost all meals, if you are wondering what utensil to use, start from the outside and work your way in. So, if you are served a salad first, use the fork set to the far left of your plate.
    Handling Utensils:
    Utensil Etiquette: Continental Style v. American Style
    Continental Style - hold your fork in your left hand, tines downward.
    Hold your knife in your right hand, 3 cm above the plate. Extend your index finger along the top of the blade.
    Use your fork to spear and lift food to your mouth.
    If your knife is not needed, it remains on the table.
    American Style - hold your fork like a pencil, with the shank extended between your thumb and index and middle fingers. Your fourth and fifth fingers rest in your hand.
    For leverage, the index finger is extended along the back of the fork, as far from the tines as possible.
    Hold the knife with the handle cupped in the palm of your left hand, along with your third, fourth, and fifth fingers. Place your second finger on the back of the blade. Hold your thumb against the side of the handle.
    Napkin Etiquette:
    At informal meals, place the napkin in your lap immediately upon seating. During formal occasions, before unfolding the napkin, wait for the hostess to remove her napkin from the table and unfold it in her lap.(An exception to this rule is buffet-style meals, where you should unfold your napkin when you start eating.)

    Place the napkin in your lap upon seating.
    When leaving the table temporarily, put the napkin on your chair.
    At the meal's end, fold your napkin and place it to the left of your place setting.
    Placing the Napkin in Your Lap: Place the napkin in your lap immediately upon seating. If there is a host or hostess, wait for him or her to take their napkin off the table and place it in his or her lap.
    Unfolding the Napkin: Unfold your napkin in one smooth motion without "snapping" or "shaking" it open.
    The size determines how you unfold a napkin in your lap - large napkins are unfolded halfway, smaller napkins are unfolded completely and cover the lap fully.
    Don't Tuck the Napkin: Don't tuck a napkin into your collar, between the buttons of your shirt, or in your belt.
    Using the Napkin: Use your napkin frequently during the meal to blot or pat, not wipe, your lips. Blot your lips before taking a drink of your beverage.
    Napkin Rings: If a napkin ring is present, after removing your napkin, place the ring to the top-left of the setting. At the end of the meal, grasp the napkin in the center, pull it through the ring, and lay it on the table with the point facing the centre of the table.
    Temporarily Leaving the Table: When leaving the table temporarily, put your napkin on your chair. If the chair is upholstered, place the napkin soiled side up.
    Placing the Napkin at the End of the Meal: The napkin is loosely folded at the end of the meal. If a plate is in the centre of your place setting when leaving the table, lay the napkin to the left of the plate. If the centre of your place setting is empty, the napkin is laid in the middle of the place setting.
    Leave your napkin in loose folds that keep soiled parts hidden.
    If after-dinner coffee is served at the table, the napkin remains in the lap.
    How Do You Hold a Fork?
    The continental style prevails at all meals, formal and informal, because it is a natural, non-disruptive way to eat.
    Hold your fork in your left hand, tines downward. Hold your knife in your right hand, 4 cm above the plate. Extend your index finger along the top of the blade.
    Use your fork to spear and lift food to your mouth.
    At informal meals, the dinner fork may be held tines upward, American table manners style.
    The Table Setting:
    Deciding which knife, fork, or spoon to use is made easier by the 'outside-in' rule – use utensils on the outside first and working your way inward. So, if you are served a salad first, use the fork set to the far left of your plate.
    Your water glass is the one above the knife in your place setting and your bread plate is to the left. To remember which bread plate belongs to you and if the glass in front of you belongs to you or your neighbour, use “b” and “d”. Touch the index finger on your right hand to your right thumb. Touch the index finger on your left hand to your left thumb. The “b” formed by your left hand is for “bread” (your bread plate is always at the left of your place setting). The “d” formed by your right hand is for “drink” (your drinking glasses are always at the right of your place setting).
    When to Start Eating:
    At a small table of only two to four people, wait until everyone else has been served before starting to eat. At a formal or business meal, you should either wait until everyone is served to start or begin when the host asks you to.
    Resting Utensils:
    How do you leave your knife and fork on your plate when taking a break or are finished eating?
    When you pause to take a sip of your beverage or to speak with someone, rest your utensils in one of the two following styles:
    Continental Style: Place your knife and fork on your plate near the center, slightly angled in an inverted V and with the tips of the knife and fork pointing toward each other.
    American Style: Rest your knife on the top right of your plate (diagonally) with the fork nearby (tines up).
    When each course is finished, place the knife and fork parallel with the handles in the four o'clock position on the right rim of the plate.
    Food Passing Etiquette:
    Pass to the right (if the item is not being passed to a specific person). One diner either holds the dish as the next diner takes some food, or he hands it to the person, who then serves herself. Any heavy or awkward dishes are put on the table with each pass.
    Bread Passing Etiquette:
    If the loaf is not cut, cut a few pieces, offer them to the person to your left, and then pass the basket to your right.
    Do not touch the loaf with your fingers, instead use the clothe in the bread basket as a buffer to steady the bread as you slice it. Place the bread and butter on your butter plate - yours is on your left - then break off a bite sized piece of bread, put a little butter on it, and eat it.
    Salt and Pepper Etiquette:
    Always pass the salt and pepper together.
    Soup Etiquette:
    Hold the soupspoon by resting the end of the handle on your middle finger, with your thumb on top. Dip the spoon sideways at the near edge of the bowl, then skim away from you. Sip from the side of the spoon. To retrieve the last spoonful of soup, slightly tip the bowl away from you.
    Seating Etiquette:
    Your host may have seating arrangements in mind, so you should allow him to direct you to your seat. As the host, you should suggest the seating arrangements.
    In a restaurant, the guest of honor should sit in the best seat at the table. Usually that is one with the back of the chair to the wall. Once the guest of honor's seat is determined, the host should sit to her left. Other people are then offered seats around the table.
    Food Service Etiquette:
    During service of a formal dinner, the food is brought to each diner at the table; the server presents the platter or bowl on the diner's left. At a more casual meal, either the host dishes the food onto guests' plates for them to pass around the table or the diners help themselves to the food and pass it to others as necessary.
    Meals End:
    At a formal affair, plates are removed by a professional staff. But as most informal meals are served without help, the hostess clears the plates, often with the help of a guest or two. At a family meal, members clear their own plates.
    Leaving the Dining Room:
    To signal dinner is concluded, the hostess catches the eye of the host, lays her napkin on the table, and suggests that everyone go into another room for coffee and after-dinner drinks. The hostess rises from her chair.

    When it's Time to Leave:
    Rather than detain one's host with a lengthy good-bye, make the departure brief but cordial.

    The Formal Table Setting:
    To avoid clutter, the general rule for a any table setting is to include no more than three utensils on either side of the dinner plate at a time. The exception is the oyster (or seafood) fork, which may be placed to the right of the last spoon even when it is the fourth utensil to the right of the plate.
    Service Plate: Place the service plate in the centre of the place setting.
    Butter Plate: A small bread plate is placed above the forks, above and to the left of the service plate.
    Water Glass - The water goblet is placed above each guest's dinner knife. The other glasses are then arranged around the water glass as follows:
     Champagne Glass -  A champagne flute may be located between the water glass and the wine glasses.

     Red Wine Glass - Red wine glasses have a wider globe and may be cupped in the palm of your hand if you choose.
     White Wine Glass - The glass with the longer stem and cylindrical globe is the white wine glass. White wine glasses should only be held by the stem.

     Sherry Glass - A small sherry glass may also be present to the right of the wine glasses. This may signal that sherry will be served with the soup course.
    Salad Fork - Directly to the plate's left. 2 cm from the plate.
    Dinner Fork -  Left of the salad fork.
    Fish Fork - On the dinner fork's left.
    Dinner Knife - (Or meat knife if meat will be served.) Directly to the right of the plate. 2 cm from the plate.
    Fish Knife - On the dinner knife's right.
    Butter Knife - On the butter plate, diagonally with the handle toward the guest.
    Soup Spoon and/or Fruit Spoon. Right of the knives.
    Oyster Fork, a
    lso known as the seafood fork. If present, on the right of the soup (or fruit) spoon. The only fork placed on the right side of the place setting.
    The fork tines are placed in the bowl of the soup spoon with the handle at a 45-degree angle.
    It may also be laid next to the soup spoon in a parallel position.
    Dessert Spoons and Forks:
    A dessert fork and/or spoon may be placed horizontally above the dinner plate. These utensils may also be provided when dessert is served.
    Salt and Pepper:
    Salt Shaker - The salt shaker is placed to the right of the pepper shaker.
    Pepper Shaker - The pepper shaker is to the left of the salt shaker, and is angled slightly above the salt shaker.
    Salt and Pepper Shakers - They are placed above the cover or between two place settings.
    Salt Cellars - At formal affairs, salt is always applied from a salt cellar, a method that provides controlled use of salt. A small spoon is presented in the salt cellar and used to sprinkle salt over food.
    Finger Bowls:
    Finger bowls may be placed on the table at the end of the meal.