Table Manners – A Guide to Proper Dining Etiquettes

Table Manners- Guide to Proper Dining Etiquettes

Proper etiquette at the table is very important, regardless of where you are eating. Even if you are at home having meal with your family. Don't you think you should set an example for your kids by following the table manners? Let me tell you some basic table manners.

Table manners may differ depending on your region and what is locally acceptable. So, pay close attention to your host and take cues from them. Proper etiquette is very important in both social and professional situation. If no one has ever taught you or you have forgotten what you learned. This manner guidance post is surely going to help you.

Proper Dining Etiquettes

Prior To The Dinner – If you are invited for dinner at someone's place, even if an RSVP is not requested, do not forget to respond. It's actually a courtesy to do so. If you update the host about your presence or absence, it helps them in making planning. In case if the invitation does not offer to bring extra guest, please do not ask for it. Yes! You can ask for your children, if you can include them or not.

Gift for the Host or Hostess- When you are invited to dine at a friend's house, it's a good idea to carry a gift along with you. Do not expect the gift to be used during the meal, as the menu is already planned. If the host or hostess use it, well and good. Many times it may not go with the meal.

Sitting Etiquette – Some dinner parties are formal. Host may make sitting arrangements, so do not be in a hurry to sit. Let the host guide you were to sit. Wait until the host sits. In a restaurant the guest of honor should sit at the best table. Once the guest of honor’s sit is determined, the host should sit to his or her left. The other people are then offered sit around the table. In some cultures blessings will be said. Even if you do not follow the beliefs of the prayer, you can still show respect and be silent.

Napkin Etiquette – As soon as you sit down, take a cue from the host when to begin. Once the host unfold his or her napkin, you should also do the same.

  1. Place the napkin in your lap.
  2. When leaving the chair temporary, put the napkin on your chair.
  3. At the meal's end, fold your napkin and place it on the left of your place setting.

Handling Utensils – The most confused part while sitting for dining is to handle utensils. It may be quite confusing for few people who are not regular user of proper silverware, which utensil to use for which course.

Famous Styles of Dining

American and continental Style of dining

There are two famous styles of dining - Continental style and American style. The Continental Style of dining   can be followed at all meals, formal and informal because it is the natural and quite easy way to eat.

1. Continental Style :

  • Taking a break - Place your knife and fork on your plate near the centre, slightly angled in an inverted V and with the fork and knife pointing towards each other.
  • Course is finished – When each course is finished place the knife and fork parallel with the handles in the four o'clock position. Fork tines down in continental style.

2. American Style:

  • Rest you knife on the top right of your plate (diagonally) with the fork nearby (tines up).
  • Course is finished – In American style also when each course is finished, place the knife and fork parallel with handles in the four o'clock position. It is similar to the continental style, only difference is fork tines upward.
  • Passing Food Etiquette – While passing food, certain etiquette should be followed. Always start from your right, if in case you don't have to pass it to a specified person for some dish. One diner holds the dish as the next diner takes some food or he hands it over to the person. Any heavy dishes or heavy utensils are put on the table for each pass.

Some Common Dining Etiquettes to Follow

Eating –

  • While eating the food, turn off your cell phone
  • Never eat with mouth full of food
  • Don't cut all your food before starting to eat. Cut one or two bites at a time
  • If you are drinking from a stemmed glass, hold it by the stem
  • If you are eating bread, cut one piece at a time and butter the piece and take the bite
  • Keep the elbows off the table
  • Never use a tooth pick or dental floss at the dining table

Meal End –

  • In case the meal is formal, plates will be removed by the staff
  • At a informal meal the host or hostess will clear the plate, may be with the help of one or two guest.
  • At the time of family meal, members clear their own plates.

Leaving The Dining Room –

While leaving the dining room, certain etiquettes need to be followed. Partially, fold your napkin and place it on the left side of your table. Wait for the host or hostess to give the signal that the meal is over. If nothing is planned after the dinner still try to stay for an hour and then ask goodbye. In an informal meal you can offer to help clean up.

Later – Don't forget to send a thank you note to the host or hostess through message or mail. Do not wait for more than two or three days. Your message should not be lengthy but heartfelt.


So, after reading this article, i am sure you got the idea of the basic table manners. Now, you can decide which table manners to follow – Continental or American style. Using proper etiquettes during dining, shows the people you are dining with that you are polite. It also demonstrates that you respect the people who prepared the meal. Always remember, proper table manner comes with practice, so start following it from today onwards and develop your personality.

Sushmita Guha

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