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Minding Your Manners While Dining

Whether you are having dinner at home, with a friend, colleague or client, there is no excuse for bad manners.  Here are some dining tips to help you make a great first impression over a meal no matter what’s at stake. 


  • Place your napkin on your lap with the fold facing your stomach ~ this will allow you to wipe your fingertips discreetly under the napkin fold. The right time to put your napkin on your lap is when the host removes his napkin from the table.
  • Place the napkin on your chair if you have to leave the table during a meal to let the waiter know that you are not finished. When you are finished eating, place it neatly to the left of your plate to signal the waiter that you are finished. If your plate has been removed, you may place your napkin where your plate was located.
  • Dab your lips with your napkin prior to having a sip of your beverage ~ to prevent bits of foods from landing in your drink.
  • Keep your hands visible when dining ~ use this rule of thumb: always, sometimes and never. Hands are always showing, forearms are sometimes showing on the table and elbows are never on the table.
  • Break off your bread in bite size ~ you will look more polished if you break off one bite-sized piece, butter it, and then eat it. And don’t butter your bread directly from the butter dish. Instead, transfer some butter from the butter dish to your bread plate. Although tempting, do not dunk or sop up the juices on your plate with your bread.
  • Silverware: start from the outside of the place setting and work in toward the plate. The utensils located above the plate are for dessert.
  • Always sit with your feet and legs tucked underneath the table ~ this is not your recreation room and no time for doing stretching. Plus, sprawling your legs on the side is considered poor manners, not to mention unsafe for waiters and people going by.


  • Don’t push your plate away from you or stack your dishes when you are finished eating ~ it will make you appear impatient for your plates to be removed. Plus, it disrupts the proceedings and others. This not the time and place for you to clean.
  • Don’t rest your cutlery half on and half off the plate like oars ~ once your utensils have touched food, they should never touch the tablecloth again ~ instead rest them in a cross pattern inside your plate while talking or taking a break.
  • Don’t pick up anything that you have dropped during the meal at a restaurant. If you drop something while having dinner at someone’s home, pick it up and ask the host for another.
  • Don’t place your handbag or briefcase on the table ~ cell phones or other devices should be tucked away in handbag, pocket or briefcase. Small handbags can be put under your napkin. Larger handbags or briefcases should be placed on the floor next to, or between your feet – not hanging from the back of your chair as a server might accidentally knock it off or it could be stolen. Better be safe than sorry.
  • Don’t apply lipstick or comb your hair at the table ~ grooming of any sort should be done in the restrooms. Avoid touching hair or face at all times while dining or anytime for that matter.
  • Don’t blow your nose at the table ~ excuse yourself from the table if needed and use the restrooms …  and don’t forget to wash your hands. And please do not use the napkin as a handkerchief.
  • Don’t answer your cell phone during a meal ~ any electronic devices such as cell phones should be, at the very least, on silent or vibrator mode. The courteous thing to do is to turn it off. It is impolite to break conversation to answer a cell call. Do not check for calls while dining, excuse yourself and go to the restrooms during a break if you feel you might have a call.

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