Table Manner 101
This is by far my most requested topics after fashion and personal image questions.
Let's jump right into it with quick pointers :
-Always hold your wine glass or your champagne flute by the stem! It is more elegant and there is nothing worse than having big fingerprints on the wider part of your glass. It can also alter the temperature of your wine. So, if you see a sommelier holding a glass that way, it's because they are actually warming up the wine (usually white).
-When you sit down at the table, put your napkin in your lap directly when you are at a restaurant. Wait for your host to do it at a private dinner (like a Thanksgiving dinner).
Don’t overthink the napkin! Remove it from its initial place on the table, gently unfold it with a gracious move, fold it in two, place it on your lap. When using it, chose to dab the corner of your lips with the inside fold. Voila!
-If you need to leave the table, put your napkin on the armrest or on the seating section of your chair. Never on the table.
Your napkin should only return to the table when you're leaving (meaning not returning). Then you can proceed to put your napkin on the left side of your plate (never in your plate).
-At a restaurant, your waiter/waitress will most commonly serve you from the right.
-Pass dishes to the right If you’re eating a family-style meal (meaning not individual plates, but multiple dishes that are shared amongst the table), you always pass the dish to the right, or counterclockwise. This is very helpful if multiple dishes are being passed at the same time. Not only will this help you get to eating faster, but if all dishes are going the same direction, there’s a lot less of a chance of dropping a dish or other food disasters
-Don't try to fish for the fruits at the bottom of your cocktail glass.
-Wear a kiss-proof lipstick (non-transferable), meaning no lipstick transfer on your glasses and napkins!
- At dinner, you should always wait for your host to start eating before you start. That's your cue.
At a restaurant, if six people or less are at a table, wait until all are served before starting to eat. At a buffet where there are eight or ten people at a table, wait until at least half the table has been seated before starting to eat.
-Elbows can be placed on the table between courses when no food is at your place. In America, the hand not being used should rest in your lap. Worldwide, the continental style of dining allows wrists to rest on the table.
-Eat slowly! Don’t overload the fork or spoon
-Always pass the salt and pepper together – Even if your neighbor asked you “May I have the salt shaker, please?” Give them both. Those items are married and inseparable.
-Don’t stick your pinkie out when drinking! Ever. It is not classy, contrary to what you might believe.
-Ideally, your elbows are touching your body when eating or drinking (meaning, don’t spread out).
-Don't speak with your mouth full. If you eat small enough bites (like you should), you'll be ready to answer the question someone is asking you in no time.
-Diets, foods you are allergic to, or foods you don’t like, aren’t really dinner conversation. And skip remarks such as “I’m too full” “I ate too much,” or “I’m stuffed!”
-Remove olive pits and small bones from the mouth with the thumb and forefinger. A piece of meat you can’t chew is slid onto the fork and placed on your dinner plate at 11 o'clock (On the top slightly to the left of the center of the plate, called the discard section)
-Sandwiches, olives, celery, radishes, raw carrots, salted nuts, fresh fruits, cookies, and small cakes are put on your plate or on a cocktail napkin before eating, never on the tablecloth.
-Bread and rolls are broken - never cut - one piece at a time. Put some butter on your bread plate and each piece buttered as it is eaten. -For pizza, is better to try eating small bites with a fork and knife, if really too complicated or messy, just bend it so you can get it into your mouth.
-French fries are eaten with a fork – cut them in half if they are bigger than bite-size and always put them on your plate first, if served communally.
-When eating spaghetti, hold the fork in your right hand, wind the pasta around the fork in small sections. Don't cut your pasta!
-Condiments such as mustard, ketchup, relishes, and jelly goes on your plate first instead of directly on the food.
-Try to pace your cadence to be done at the same time as everyone. Or at least not being first to finish your plate. When you are done eating, place your fork and knife vertically at 4 o’clock in your plate
-Eat pie with a dessert fork and cake à la mode with a dessert fork and spoon.
-Drinking tea! The cup handle is placed at 3 o’clock on a saucer. You take the handle between your thumb and index and the middle finger can serve as support under the handle. (again, no pinkie out!). The cup goes to your mouth, the saucer stays on the table and serve as a coaster (except if you’re standing, then you hold the saucer). Do not stir your spoon in your cup clockwise or counterclockwise, go back and forth while staying straight (6 to 12 o’clock) without clinging the cup. Don’t slurp!
- After your meal is over, always say something nice about the food to your host if she cooked. If she has a cook and some staff, say something nice about the service in general and the quality of the meal you just enjoyed.
There you go darlings! Hope this was helpful and remember it might seem like a LOT of rules, but as you apply them more and more, it'll become natural and you will feel comfortable and adequate in any social setting.