Etiquette 101: Dinning and Table Manners….

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A meal with anyone other than you can be considered a social event which makes it essential to practice proper manners. As with any social situation, consideration for those around you can make a world of difference at the end of the day.

What you place on the table and how you place it (Table setting) and how you interact with the food with others (table manners) should be put taken into consideration.

Let’s start with table manners;

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Table manners have evolved over centuries and the reason why there is something called “table manners” in the first place is to help make the practice of eating with others pleasant and sociable.

With so many table manners to keep track of, here are some basic, and oh-so-important ones to keep in mind as you eat;

  1. Chew with your mouth closed.

2. Keep your digital devices off the table and set to silent or vibrate. Your calls and texts can wait until you are finished with the meal and away from the table.

3. Do not use your fork or spoon like a shovel or stab your food.

4. Wash up and come to the table clean. Do not groom or attend to hygiene at the table.

5. Remember you have a napkin. Use it.

6. Wait until you’re done chewing to sip or swallow a drink.

7. No matter how tempting, pace yourself with fellow diners by cutting only one piece of food at a time.

8. Avoid slouching and placing your elbows on the table while eating. You can prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses.

9. Rather than reach across the table for something, ask for it to be passed to you.

9. Bring your best self to the meal. Be pleasant and take part in the dinner conversation.

With that in mind let’s take a look at table setting;

The essence of taking table settings into consideration is to avoid your guest looking for where to find a particular serving bowl. You don’t people asking where to find certain things on the table. Save yourself the confusion.

Here’s quick recap on the basic principles in table setting.

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Once you realize table setting is based on logic, things become less intimidating. For example, you begin eating a meal by using the flatware at the outside left and right, and then working your way in towards the plate as the meal proceeds. Forks are placed to the left of the plate, knives and spoons to the right. Stemware is set above and to the right of the dinner plate; bread-and-butter plates sit above the forks, to the left of the place setting.

Flatware should align with the bottom rim of the charger, a large plate, which will be removed after everyone spreads his napkin on his lap (napkin rings, often customary at family meals, may be used as a festive decoration). The water glass stands above the dinner knife, white wine to its right and red wine top center.

Also, remember to think ahead when setting the table—if there are going to be toasts, a champagne glass should be added, and be placed furthest to the right to enable guests to easily raise their glasses.

Setting the Table for Soup:

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Soup is served in a heated soup dish, atop a dinner plate, and eaten with the soup spoon, which is placed at the outer right. When every guest has finished and laid his spoon, bowl up, across the upper right hand corner of the plate, the plate, bowl, and spoon will be removed. The bread-and-butter plate and butter knife remain.

When soup is served with a plate, the resting place for the spoon is in the bowl.  The finished position is across the top of the plate, behind the bowl, between 11 and 2 (think the clock-face). When there is no plate, the resting and finished positions are the same, in the bowl. Once a utensil has touched food, it is never to touch the tablecloth again.

Also note, if the salad is served after the main course, the salad fork is placed to the right of the dinner. If the salad is served first, then the forks would be arranged (left to right) salad fork, fish fork, dinner fork.

Setting the Table for the Main Course:

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Course two has been cleared, leaving the table set for the main course. The large dinner plate may be brought in either bearing a portion of food or empty, if food is to be served at the table. In either case, the plate should be preheated unless the main course is served cold. Eat with the dinner fork and knife.

Setting the Table for Dessert:

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A small dessert plate arrives. Use the cake fork and the dessert spoon, which have been laid across the top of the setting before the meal began (note that the fork’s tines are set facing right and the spoon’s bowl facing left). The water glass is the only stemware still on the table. “While the other stemware is removed, a formal meal will often have a dessert wine or champagne toast as part of the final course.

Hope this tips help you set a proper table for the next social gathering.

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