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October 20, 2007

How To Improve Your Table Manners

By Joanne Redder

Whether you’re having a casual dinner with girlfriends or dining at a high-end restaurant with the potential man of your dreams, table manners are an important indication of what you’re really like.

While I’m sure you know the basics of how to eat like a lady, it’s possible that you let your best behavior fall by the wayside every now and then, and all you need is a refresher course to make sure that you maintain your table manners for a lifetime.

And even if you’re date is not behaving like a gentleman or your girlfriends are downing ribs and have sauce smeared all over their faces, it will only reflect well on you to conduct yourself like a lady.

So the next time you’re out, here’s what you need to remember about your table manners:

Table manners tip #1
When a chair is pulled out for you

Whether it’s your date or the service person, when anyone pulls out your chair, thank them and kneel down far away enough from the chair so that when the person pushes it in slightly, you can grab the bottom of the chair and perfect your seating.

Do not sit directly where the chair has been pulled out, otherwise the person will have a difficult time trying to help you bring the chair in.

Table manners tip #2
Body language

Your body language says a lot about you. Even if you are the most polite and entertaining conversationalist, if you cannot keep your “body” manners up, the rest of your behavior may not get noticed.

Napkin – Upon being seated, bring your napkin down to your lap (assuming it’s cloth), unfold it, and place it in your lap. When you finish eating, place your napkin beside the plate.

Arms – Keep your elbows off the table at all times, but do place your forearms on the table. Do not keep your hands under the table, it is considered rude.

Legs – Do not cross your legs (unless you can do so discreetly under the table) and do not at any point place your foot on the chair.

Posture – Try to keep your back against the chair when you are not eating and maintain your posture throughout the night.

Table manners tip #3
Dining etiquette

While I can’t be there to tell you how to eat whatever it is that you order, there are some simple tips you need to keep in mind.

Seasoning – Do not add salt and pepper to your food before you’ve tasted it. If someone asks you to pass the salt, pass both the salt and pepper by picking them up and placing them near the person next to you -- they should not be passed from hand to hand. As well, if someone made the request before you’ve used them, they get first dibs.

Soup – Dip your spoon into the soup and spoon away from your body, filling 2/3 of the spoon. Do not blow on or slurp your soup. When it is nearing the finish, it is fine to tilt the bowl.

Other appetizers & meals – Besides bread, I strongly suggest that you don’t order anything that needs to be eaten with your fingers (ribs, lamb chops). It could get messy and may not give off the sort of impression you’d like to make. And when you opt to eat bread – break off a piece at a time, put some butter on it (if you want) and then place the morsel in your mouth.

Every course – Leave a bit of food on your plate throughout each course; it is considered good manners.

Table manners tip #4
Utensils use
They have long been the bane of most diners but there are some easy tips to follow when it comes to your forks knives, and spoons.

If there are multiple forks at your setting, begin with the outside fork and work your way in.

When dining with a fork and knife, cut a couple of pieces of your food, place your knife at the top of your plate with the blade facing toward you, then place a morsel inside your mouth.

Always bring the food up to your mouth; do not lower your face closer to your plate.

After you’ve completed a course, do not place your used utensils back in their original place. Instead, place both your fork and knife on the right side of the plate, with the points facing away from you to indicate that you’ve completed your course.

Table manners tip #5
Being served

In an ideal world, everyone’s food would arrive at the same time. Sometimes, however, that is not the case. If your food happens to arrive before anyone else’s, wait until they have received their food as well.

If you happen to be in a restaurant where a bunch of platters are being served for the entire table to share, always pass food on your right.

Table manners tip #6
Whether you are drinking wine or mineral water, if your glass has a stem, always hold it from the stem.

Do not take a drink of anything until someone else has broken the ice or offers to make a toast.

If you want to take a drink while you are eating, swallow your food and wipe your mouth with your napkin beforehand.

Table manners tip #7
Good conversation

If you want to be able to carry on a conversation (which you should), take small bites of food with each forkful so that you are able to swallow quickly and maintain a conversation.

Even if you’re telling a wicked story about the time you were nearly eaten by a shark, do not at any point wave your utensils in the air while speaking.

Table manners tip #8
Bathroom breaks
It’s inevitable; with all that liquid being ingested, you will definitely need a bathroom break. Or, you may just want to reapply your lipstick.

Excuse yourself before you stand up. Do not explain why you need to be excused. When you do stand up, place your napkin on your chair.

Table manners tip #9
Paying the tab

If you are the one who extended the invitation to dinner, it’s only right to pick up the tab. Be discreet about it and thank your guest(s) for coming.

Table manners for women

It’s widely believed that if you’re looking for a gentleman, you need to behave like a lady, and while no one wants to be this formal all the time, it is nice to adapt some table manners when you’re in a situation that calls for it.

Bon appetit.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You break bread, you do not cut it.


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