10 Important Table Manners everyone must learn

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You should wipe your spoon before passing it to a neighbor.”

“Do not blow your nose with the same hand that you use to hold the meat” — Erasmus, Dutch humanist and author of the first modern book of manners in 1526.

Manners are something that everyone should know, not just children and when it comes to manners, table manners are the most important, if you’re looking to make a good impression. Even if you’re not, table manners are synonymous with etiquette, decency and good breeding. Today’s society has absolutely no regards whatsoever for manners, let alone table manners.  In countries like Great Britain, people are still judged on the basis of how they conduct themselves at the dining table. For as long as human beings have been consuming food, table manners have been followed. These manners might vary from country to country and from village to village, but there are a few table manners that everyone should know about. It shows that you’re parents brought you up right and you have a sense of decency and decorum. So whether you’re eating at home, or a restaurant or you’re attending a dinner party, table manners are of the utmost importance, not only because they make a pleasant meal and make you and you’re guests, if any, comfortable, but most of all, you come across as CIVILIZED and not some Neanderthal, ready to wolf down his food in one big bite, wipe his hands, and nose on his clothes and belch out loudly.

10. Wait for your host

10. Wait for your host

Yes, so basically if you’ve been invited a dinner party or lunch, the first thing to do before having food is to wait for your host. Wait for everyone to be seated and then sit down. Don’t jump in headfirst and start eating. In most situations, your host will tell you where to sit, for that, wait for them to indicate your place and then sit. He or she may assign you a seat, until then stand quietly, or if you’re talking, be sure to make it light and talk softly. Wait for your host to take his/her place and then sit. If you see someone struggling to find their place, or if an elderly person is having difficulties, help them find their chair and then sit. After you’ve been assigned a place, pull your chair to the table, quietly, without making any horrible scraping sound. Sit comfortably and don’t fidget. Pull the napkin across your lap and wait for the food to arrive.

9. Chew with your mouth shut

9. Chew with your mouth shut

Quite a basic manner, keeping our mouths shut whilst chewing has been taught to us since we were kids. However, I still am horrified to find people talking loudly with food in their mouth and making noises whilst eating. This is a very, very gross thing to do, especially for people sitting next to you. If you decide to talk to them, chew your food first, swallow it and then talk. Don’t start guffawing out loudly, or cracking jokes. You really don’t want to inconvenience your neighbor or host by having bits of food thrown at them, while talking. Encourage your kids to do so too, you can start this by practicing it at home in front of them. No one really wants to see what’s in your mouth while you’re eating.

8. Slurping, smacking, burping or yawning

8. Slurping, smacking, burping or yawning

Yes its 2013, and people still slurp their soups. Soup is a not a noisy dish. So have it quietly. Slurping your soup or noodles and making unnecessary noises is not a proper thing to do while you’re having food. If the soup is hot, wait for it cool, then have it, instead of blowing over it and having drops of your saliva thrown around. If you want to test the temperature of the soup or any other hot beverage, take a single sip from the side of the spoon if however, you’ve managed to burn your tongue, have a sip of water to reduce the effect of the burn. Let your soup cool down on its own accord, don’t blow on it. Don’t eat with your mouth full or make smacking noises whilst chewing. If you feel a burp coming over, cover your mouth with a napkin and then burp, QUIETLY, and excuse yourself. Again if you feel like yawing, do the same. Although I hardly doubt you’ll start yawning at the sight of delicious food. If you’re having dinner with guests, yawn quietly and of course, excuse yourself.

7. Basic Manners

7. Basic Manners

Please, thank you, excuse me, sorry, pardon me. These are some basic words that can make you look more civilized and decent and yet, people today, lack the common sense and decorum to simply utter these easy words. These few simple important words are the cornerstone of good basic table manners. When you’re served food, say ‘thank you’ to the waiter or server, if you need something from across the table, say, ‘please pass the salt or soup or anything else’, if you need to use the washroom, excuse yourself, if you’ve managed to embarrass yourself believe me, it will be quickly forgotten if you just say, ‘excuse me’ or ‘may I be excused’ or just ‘pardon my clumsiness.’ Say ‘excuse me, ‘if you need permission to leave the table. Children should be taught to say, ‘may I please’ or ‘thank you, ‘while accepting or asking for food. It’s not a mammoth task, just simple ways to show your gratitude and appreciation.

6. How to use a Napkin

6. How to use a Napkin

As soon as you’re seated, take the napkin and place it across your lap, open it quietly and don’t shake it open. Sometimes if you’re at a dinner party, the waiter might do this for, wait for him to do so. Don’t ever use your napkin to wipe or blow your nose and as much as possible, keep your napkin clean. A soiled or filthy napkin looks disgusting so if you have to excuse yourself, leave it on the chair and not on the table. Don’t use your napkin to spit out things, if you have anything , bones , if you’re eating meat or fish, then place them at the side of your plate. Make good and proper use of your napkin, wipe your fingers whenever you can and use a small area to blot your lips after eating. Other than that, a napkin should never be used for any other disgusting thing, like spitting, coughing, sneezing or blowing.

5. Eating skills

5. Eating skills

As soon as the food arrives, make sure to take a fair amount and don’t over load your plate with food. You can always take second helpings, so think of others when you’re serving yourself. If you need something, don’t reach across the table or flap your hands wildly in the air and point to the dish. Wait for someone to pass it to you. If someone asks for a dish to be passed, make sure the bowl reaches the person and don’t help yourself along the way. If you need to, ask the bowl to be passed back to you and then take the desired amount. Always take small bites and never play with your food. The proper way to ask for salt or pepper is, ‘please pass the salt.’ Never, ever stuff your mouth with too much food. It’s rude and disgusting.

4. Posture

4. Posture

The most important table manner is to learn how to sit at a table. Don’t slouch or hunch over your food and keep your elbows off the table. Sit up straight, it shows respect and regard for everyone else. No matter what, do not keep your elbows at the table. Keep your arms in front of the body and take the fork to your mouth and not your mouth to the fork. You can lean slightly while eating but other than that, sit up straight. Of course, since you’re with company, people will likely be talking to each other and someone may want to talk to you, how would  that be possible if you’re hunching, lost in your own world or look like you’re about to fall asleep. So avoid offending others and sit up straight. But don’t be stiff as a rail at table; table manners are there to be learned so that everyone is comfortable at the table and with each other. Don’t tip or balance your chair, kids often do that, so as parents, we must make sure to teach them not to do so.

3. Proper use of Utensils

3. Proper use of Utensils

Learn how to use your utensils properly. A knife is used for cutting and spreading butter across bread and buns, a fork is used to take small bites and a spoon is used for everything else. Learn how to hold your cutlery properly; don’t fiddle with your forks or spoons while holding them. After you’ve used them, place them on the side. Always use your fork and knife to cut meat and never push your plate across the table after you’re done eating. However, at one time or the other, we are bound to use the wrong utensils, no concerns about that, you can learn about it at home or if you’re having dinner with company , apologize or excuse yourself and forget it. If you’ve dropped a utensil, DO NOT pick it up again from the floor, the waiter will do that and you can ask for a new one. Picking up dropped utensils from the floor and using them is not only, rude, it’s unhygienic and just, wrong.

2. Table Conversation

2. Table Conversation

This is quite possibly the most important table manner everyone must learn. Your conversation must be light and polite. Don’t talk about gross or unhygienic things at the table, even if you’re at home and having food with your family, talk about nice things, and not something that’s bullshit. Don’t talk about things that make others uncomfortable, or go off in a rant, like, ‘hey I saw something disgusting today. ‘Avoid talking about distasteful things at the table and if you’re passionate about a topic, make sure that you talk about it within limits. Vary your conversation, don’t talk loudly and as much as you can, keep your mobile phone silent or on vibrating mode. I’ve seen plenty of dinner parties destroyed just because someone decided to take a call and continued talking loudly. Excuse yourself and then take a call, outside. It’s impolite to take calls at the table. Don’t interrupt if someone else is talking, wait for them to finish and then chip in. Also, if you find something funny, an occasional loud laughter is okay but no laughing like a hyena at the dinner table.

1. Complimenting

1. Complimenting

This is something even kids must know about. Consideration, appreciation and gratitude after a meal is of the utmost importance. It shows that you appreciate whoever took the pains to cook the meal and prepare it. Kids can thank their mums after a meal, even we as adults must always remember to thank the host or hostess for the meal. After finishing a meal, you can simply say, that was a delicious meal, I enjoyed it. Don’t insult the host by making derogatory remarks about the food or their home or anything like, it was too salty, or under cooked. Always compliment your host to show your appreciation. Wait for everyone else to finish before leaving the table.

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