Table Etiquette 101

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Table Etiquette

Ooze sophistication by knowing how to set the table correctly and appropriate etiquette

Hosting a dinner party for your friends is stressful. But, hosting one for your boss is even more a nightmare. However, it needn’t be. If you keep the menu tasty yet simple and know some basic etiquette guidelines, you will feel more confident hosting any bash in the future.

What to do with all that silverware and glassware?

Cutlery is tricky and can look horribly intimidating, especially when eating in a multiple course meal. However, you needn’t be overwhelmed. In the age of food trucks and food courts where eating tasty treats have gone super casual, we are not often faced with a barrage of silverware at restaurants. But no need to panic. Just remain calm and keep your wits about you. Just remember the simple rule in that you start from the inside and work your way out. Everything should be laid out to make it ‘easier’ for you, not to flummox you. So, keep that in mind.
If you are setting a table for your very own party, follow this simple guideline here which gives the most comprehensive layout and explanation for those intricacies.

Eating with style

‘The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.’ – Oscar Wilde

Just remember that only the spoon and fork should enter your mouth. In other words, no licking of knives or anything like that. And, always make sure the tines (prongs) of the fork are facing downwards. Do not scoop up your food with your fork. Rather push food onto the tip using your knife and use sticky foods such as mash potatoes to get some of the other ‘trickier’ foods to stick. Some people prefer to cut up their food into pieces and then just eat with a fork; this is acceptable but may sometimes be inappropriate depending on how complex the dish is.

Try not to lower your head when eating and rather bring the fork up to your mouth. This is a common mistake and probably a habit we get from eating too many hamburgers. When you lower your head, you break eye contact with your dinner guest which diminishes connection and may halt conversation. So, you want to maintain your poise and interest throughout dinner.

When eating sweets, always use both your dessert spoon and fork. Ice-cream or sorbet may be eaten with a teaspoon if you desire. Sometimes you can come across the teaspoons with the long handle which are ideal for sorbet, sundaes and ice-cream.

And finally, at the end of each course, be sure to put your cutlery together in the ‘six-thirty’ position to signal to waiters or your host that you are no longer wishing to eat anymore.

Table Etiquette


Ah, many find these little guys a bit of a nightmare but they are not as finicky. Most people do not know the basic hand position and hold the chopsticks too far down. The further your hand is towards the top will give you loads more control and leverage. So, while holding them parallel, let your thumb and forefinger manipulate the top one while the bottom one remains still. And the key is to just practise. However, never ever stick them into a bowl of rice so that they are standing up straight. That is the height of bad manners. Usually you will find special wooden or ceramic rests where you can lay them in between mouthfuls if you wish. Be careful not to point them at people with them and the same goes for silverware too. Sticking your fork in someone’s face and waving it around never really screams high-class.

Serving and Passing

Make sure all your guests have everything they need: salt & pepper, butter, water, sauces, condiments. Pass things around and if you can’t reach, ask your neighbor to pass it for you. Always remember to keep your elbows off the table and only start eating once everyone has been plated up. Starting first in a smaller group will be seen as rude so rather wait for everyone’s food to be plated and if you are the hostess you should encourage your guests to start.

Eating those tricky foods

There are a couple of foods that pose more of a headache than others. For example, when squeezing lemon wedges, you don’t want to squirt someone inadvertently in the eye. You can get around this problem by squeezing the lemon gently against the tines of your fork and cupping your hand around therefore keeping everyone safe.

Usually, when eating prawns or other shellfish things are going to get messy as you may have to use your hands. At any good establishment, finger bowls will be provided – tepid water with a slice of lemon. After deshelling the prawn with your fingers, be sure to rinse your fingers discreetly and dry them on your accompanying napkin.

If eating grapes, be sure to remove a small bunch and put them on your plate to nibble at rather than pick off individual ones off the larger bunch.

Caviar should be served at room temperature. Although often accompanied by blinis (savoury pancakes) and other ingredients such as chopped onion and lemon, simplicity is really the best thing here. Test to make sure it is okay but take a little and placing it between the thumb and forefinger. There should be no additional or off-putting smell. Once the tin is open make sure to store the rest in a glass container or even a champagne flute.

Don’t hesitate, host a classy soirée

So, if you enjoyed this article and would like even more in-depth information on etiquette tips from the experts at Debretts from the UK please take a look here. Otherwise, consider yourself armed with all the tips and tricks necessary to be the hostess with the mostess and enthrall your guests with your refined manners and charm. Remember to ooze confidence and elegance and, of course, keep topping up the drinks! Then, you really can’t go wrong. Everybody will love and be talking about your party for ages.

Keep dining!

Don’t miss: Head on over to Bazxar’s trendy brunch

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