Whether you’ve been invited to a dinner party or you’re going out to eat, brushing up on your table manners is a good way to prepare. Having table manners can leave a great impression on your fellow guests, and it will help everyone feel happy and comfortable as they enjoy their meal. We’ve compiled a list of things to remember at the dinner table so you can enjoy delicious food and fun times with your friends and family members.

1

Wash your hands before you sit down.

  1. Head to the restroom and give your hands a good scrubbing with soap and water before you sit down. If you’re teaching table manners to a kid, this is a good time to tell them how long to wash their hands and how hard to scrub.[1]
    • Some fancier restaurants will even bring you a dish of water to dip your hands in. However, this is usually reserved for fine dining.
  2. Advertisement
3

Wait for everyone to be seated.

  1. If you’re at a dinner party, let everyone get settled before you touch your place setting. The same goes for a restaurant—once your party is seated, you can start getting settled.
    • If there isn’t assigned seating, give the guest of honor or the host the best seat at the table (usually the seat at the head of the table). Everyone else can sit wherever they’d like to.
    • Always enter and leave the dining chair from it’s right in a restaurant and at a formal dinner. Before doing so help the lady on your right or left by pulling her chair back when she starts sitting and the pushing it in. Men in military enter the chair from left and leave from right as formal dinner is considered a parade.
  2. Advertisement


7

Use the utensils from the outside in.

  1. If you aren’t sure which one to use, a good rule of thumb is just to work from the outside in. As you eat through different courses, you’ll use different spoons or forks.[6]
    • If you’re just at a dinner party with friends and family, you probably won’t have to worry about multiple sets of utensils.
    • On your left, the utensils from the outside in are the salad fork, the dinner fork, and the dessert fork. On your right, you'll have a soup spoon, then a tea spoon, then a dinner knife.
  2. Advertisement
14

Put your utensils on your plate when you’re are taking a break/pause or when you are done.

  1. Try to place them both in the center of your plate so they don’t fall off. If you’re at a restaurant, it will signal to the waiter that you’re ready for your plate to be taken away.[14]
    • You can cross your utensils when taking a break or pausing or waiting for more food. The tines of the fork should face down and blade of the fork should face inward. If you are using a table spoon, place it’s bowel facing up. If you are done eating, just place them side by side at 6’O clock position in UK and at 4’O clock position elsewhere. Also put your napkin on the table to the left side of your plate.

Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What should I talk about at a dinner party?
    Tami Claytor
    Tami Claytor
    Etiquette Coach
    Tami Claytor is an Etiquette Coach, Image Consultant, and the Owner of Always Appropriate Image and Etiquette Consulting in New York, New York. With over 20 years of experience, Tami specializes in teaching etiquette classes to individuals, students, companies, and community organizations. Tami has spent decades studying cultures through her extensive travels across five continents and has created cultural diversity workshops to promote social justice and cross-cultural awareness. She holds a BA in Economics with a concentration in International Relations from Clark University. Tami studied at the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned her Image Consultant Certification.
    Tami Claytor
    Etiquette Coach
    Expert Answer
    Make sure the conversation is general so that everyone can participate in the discussion. If it's very niche, then people will be excluded.
  • Question
    What's the proper way to hold a spoon and a fork?
    Tami Claytor
    Tami Claytor
    Etiquette Coach
    Tami Claytor is an Etiquette Coach, Image Consultant, and the Owner of Always Appropriate Image and Etiquette Consulting in New York, New York. With over 20 years of experience, Tami specializes in teaching etiquette classes to individuals, students, companies, and community organizations. Tami has spent decades studying cultures through her extensive travels across five continents and has created cultural diversity workshops to promote social justice and cross-cultural awareness. She holds a BA in Economics with a concentration in International Relations from Clark University. Tami studied at the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned her Image Consultant Certification.
    Tami Claytor
    Etiquette Coach
    Expert Answer
    Hold them by your index finger and your thumb and then rest them on the third finger. Don't hold them too high or too low—opt for somewhere near the center. Also, make sure you bring the food to your mouth while sitting up straight. You don't bend forward to meet the food.
  • Question
    What can I do to improve my manners?
    Community Answer
    Community Answer
    This article is a great place to start your research: how to have good manners.
Advertisement

About This Article

Tami Claytor
Co-authored by:
Etiquette Coach
This article was co-authored by Tami Claytor and by wikiHow staff writer, Hannah Madden. Tami Claytor is an Etiquette Coach, Image Consultant, and the Owner of Always Appropriate Image and Etiquette Consulting in New York, New York. With over 20 years of experience, Tami specializes in teaching etiquette classes to individuals, students, companies, and community organizations. Tami has spent decades studying cultures through her extensive travels across five continents and has created cultural diversity workshops to promote social justice and cross-cultural awareness. She holds a BA in Economics with a concentration in International Relations from Clark University. Tami studied at the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned her Image Consultant Certification. This article has been viewed 571,848 times.
103 votes - 89%
Co-authors: 68
Updated: January 21, 2024
Views: 571,848
Article SummaryX

To have good table manners, follow your host's lead if it's your first time at a dinner party. When you arrive, wait for the host to invite you to the table, and put your napkin in your lap and begin eating when the host does. When you're eating, use the outermost set of cutlery first and work your way in toward your plate. Always remember to say please and thank you, and avoid talking with food in your mouth or chewing with your mouth open. For tips on passing plates and signaling that you're finished eating, scroll down!

Did this summary help you?
Advertisement