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13 Basic Table Manners

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

What do you think are the most important rules of modern etiquette when eating?


Kind regards,

Dear Kind regards,

Basic dining etiquette never goes out of style. However, given the importance of electronic communication, cell phones and other electronic devices need to be mentioned when discussing table manners.

13 Basic Table Manners

1. Electronic devices. Turn off or silence all electronic devices before entering the restaurant. If you forgot to turn off your cell phone, and it rings, immediately turn it off. Do not answer the call. Do not text, and if you have a Blackberry or iphone, do not browse the Internet at the table.

2. Napkin. Place the napkin on your lap after being seated. As needed, use it to gently wipe or dab your mouth. Before drinking from a glass, dab your mouth. During a restroom break, place the napkin to the left of the plate. At the end of the meal, the napkin is placed neatly to the right of the plate (not refolded, but not crumpled either).

3. Wait until everyone is served before eating. If you are a guest, wait for the host to begin.

4. Utensils. If unsure which utensil to use, remember "outside in." The outer most utensil is used first. Once used, the utensil does not go back on the table, but is placed on the plate. When finished, the knife and fork are place side by side (parallel) on the plate with handles at the 3 or 4 o'clock position. Soup spoons are placed on bowl's service plate when finished; teaspoons placed on the saucer.

5. Bread or rolls: Place your bread and some butter on the bread plate. Tear off a bite-size piece of bread before buttering.

6. Sit up straight, do not hunch over your plate.

7. Hands. You can place your wrists or forearms on the table, or hands on your lap.

8. Legs. Keep legs next to your chair. Do not stretch legs out or cross your legs as they may bump others under the table.

9. Chew with your mouth closed. Do not overfill your mouth with food. Wait several seconds before taking the next bite.

10. Removing items from your mouth. If you need to remove gristle, bone, or an olive pit from your mouth, then remove it the way it had entered (i.e. fork or fingers), and place it discreetly on your plate.

11. Avoid uncouth conduct such as talking with mouth full, burping, nose blowing, picking at teeth, grooming or putting on makeup at the table. Instead, excuse yourself from the table and go to the restroom.

12. Courtesy. Always say thank you when served something.

13. Relax, dine slowly, and enjoy the meal and your company.