Table Manners for Modern-Day Dining

Dinnertime etiquette is not as fussy as it once had been, especially at home (really, do you spoon your soup away from you?) , and I for one am thankful for that. But in such casual times, what’s the etiquette of the table? What do good ways seem? Join me as I cover most of the bases of modern table etiquette, from setting the table and serving the dinner, into the most polite ways to get your visitors to leave when they simply aren’t taking the hint.

SHED Architecture & Design

Table fashion essentials. Etiquette round the dining table has relaxed a excellent deal, but certain basic rules still apply. Follow these suggestions and you shouldn’t ever be too much out there.
Wait until everyone is seated and served before you begin eating.Ask somebody to pass food rather than reaching for it.If you have a food allergy or special dietary needs, notify your host beforehand.
Try a bite of everything, even if it is not your favorite.Say “please” and “thank you” — but don’t talk with your mouth full!If seating is tight, keep your elbows off the table. Otherwise, except in formal dinners, it is OK.Wait until everyone is finished eating before getting up.And eventually, make sure you compliment the food. If supper is a complete disaster, you can still express gratitude for your host for taking the time to prepare it.


Supplies for setting the table. Mercifully, table setting now is simpler than ever. All you really need is a salad fork, dinner fork, table knife, soup spoon and after-dinner or dessert spoon. One set of good wineglasses with or without stems will serve you well, whatever the kind of wine you’re serving (wine connoisseurs will likely want to have more variety, but it is not necessary). A set of water glasses, or even mason jars, can hold water and other drinks. Dinner plates, salad plates and soup bowls are all essential — add a pretty set of pasta dishes should you wish, but you may also use more salad plates for dessert plates.

Chango & Co..

Tech in the dining table. When you’re enjoying a dinner with friends, silence your phone and place it away. In this age of 24/7 connection, giving your full attention to the people that you are with is the very best gift. When it’s your friend who is constantly assessing the telephone during dinner, then it’s perfectly all right to ask him or her to put it away until you’re finished eating. Emphasize the fact that you have been looking forward to spending time together, and you want to grab up — keep your language positive, and your friend should get the image without taking crime.

There are a couple times we really must keep our phones on — parents with infants in the home and doctors on call instantly come to mind. If that is true, allow the folks at your table understand you need to keep your phone on and why, and they will know you are not being impolite if you jump up throughout dinner to answer the telephone.

The linens. Utilize either a tablecloth (more formal) or placemats (more informal), but not both simultaneously. If you’re using a tablecloth and want a more layered look, consider adding chargers under your dinner plates. Or move without tablecloth and placemats for an easy, modern sense.

Cloth napkins make any meal sense more special, so place them outside at breakfast, lunch and dinner, whether or not (but especially if) you’ve got company. I discover that if there are too few cloth napkins at the house, people resort to newspaper more frequently — stock up so that you always have plenty of fresh ones available

Rikki Snyder

Setting the table. Forks go on the left, knives and spoons on the right; glassware goes over the knives and spoons. Flatware for the first class (salad fork, soup spoon) goes on the outside; main-course flatware goes on the interior.

Fold the napkin and either put it under the fork (less formal), or at the center of the plate (more formal). If you’re using a napkin ring, then put the napkin to the left of the pliers or on top of the plate. If you’re serving soup, then you can put the folded napkin involving the soup bowl along with the salad plate.


Serving the meal. Consider your menu and what sort of atmosphere you’d love to make. Casual gatherings are more fun servedfamily style, with all of the serving dishes put on the table and handed around. When there is not enough space for each of the food, place a few bulky trays of food on a buffet along with the rest on the table. If you’re having soup for dinner, then it may be much easier to ladle bowlfuls in the kitchen and take them out.

For more formal dishes (and for miniature tables without a space for platters) plate that the food at the kitchen. Or as a compromise, try out a family-style plated dinner — pile plates in the kitchen and encourage your guests to dish out their own food.

For big classes a buffet is the way to go. Place plates in the head of the buffet and flatware bundled in napkins in the end, where it’s more suitable for individuals to pick them up. Set up a different drinks channel so the buffet does not get too congested.

Chango & Co..

Flowers and candles. A beautiful floral arrangement along with the flickering glow of candlelight may be the perfect finishing touches to the dinner table, but flowers and candles can be taken too far. Overly aromatic blossoms and scented candles may interfere with the pleasure of the food, and also oversize arrangements can make it difficult to see across the table.

If you want to have big floral arrangements, go ahead and place them on the dining table to enjoy before supper, but transfer them to a sideboard or buffet prior to sitting down. Use only unscented or organic beeswax tapers on the dining table — save your favorite scented version for the living space.

Koch Architects, Inc.. Joanne Koch

End on a high note. Always offer to help your host clean or clear — and if you’re really familiar (by way of example, it’s your very best friend’s house), simply pick up a plate and start helping. Make sure you thank your host (again) to get a beautiful evening, and don’t overstay your welcome.

If you are the person doing the hosting, cleaning up the dining table and serving coffee are good techniques to send the signal that you’re wrapping things up. And in case your guests still don’t get the message? Try saying something along the lines of, “Well, it has been wonderful catching up with you. You know I’d really like to talk all night, but I have an early morning tomorrow so I am afraid I will need to say goodnight.” If who does not do the trick, you are on your own!

Tell us : Which dining manners are important for you — and which not so much? Any pet peeves?

More: Simple Pleasures: Share Supper in the Kitchen

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