We live in a time when families have not passed on the traditions of a polite society to our younger generation. This is not to say, that polite young adults don’t exist. They do. We, at Manners Simply, endeavor to encourage and inform others about everything pertaining to dining. In this Part Two of guest responsibilities when being invited for dinner at the home of another we will address table manners.
Often times in the hectic season of the holidays, hosts will invite guests outside of the family. With family a host generally, but not always, knows of specific food allergies. It is the host’s duty to inquire if a guest has any dietary restrictions such as seafood allergies, medical diet restrictions or gluten intolerance. With that in mind, when you are a guest at someone’s home, you eat what you are being served. If it isn’t to your liking, make an attempt to eat a small portion of it, or at least move it around on your plate to make it look as though you have some interest in it. The host should not say to you “oh, don’t you like the ______” as that is insensitive.
Parents should prep their children in advance of going to dinner at the home of someone else. Explain what the expectations are and what the decorum of the day will look like. Perhaps you don’t say grace before you begin a meal at your home, but the host does. A host may make a toast after saying grace to welcome everyone. Throughout the meal, others may make a toast. It’s wonderful to teach your children a toast to make. They’ll steal the show!
It’s important for all guests to follow the lead of the host. So, this means don’t begin serving yourself food until the host indicates the meal is beginning. She’ll do this by starting to pass the first item around the table if the meal is served family style or encourage everyone to serve themselves from the nearest serving bowl.
Some basic dining tips for everyone
- Place your table napkin on your lap after the host has placed the napkin in their lap. Providing the table has been set correctly, your napkin will be placed either on the left of the dinner plate, or on top of the empty dinner plate or charger.
- Pass foods to the right, and not across the table and don’t have some foods being passed to the left and some to the right.
- Pass salt and pepper sets together. They are married.
A beautiful seasonal salt and pepper set sold by Williams Sonoma.
- Don’t serve yourself a second serving of food unless the host indicates for everyone to eat more if they would like.
- Butter your dinner rolls on the plate. Don’t break it apart mid-air to butter it. Break off a bite-sized piece at a time, butter it and then eat it. Leaving it on the plate to butter and break apart prevents breadcrumbs from soiling the table linens.
- Talk to the persons on both sides of you throughout the meal.
- Don’t be the first person to finish eating. Pace yourself to the speed of the other diners.
You can’t practice table manners only at a holiday dinner. As humans, we don’t function like that. To have good table manners, to hold your flatware correctly and to cut your food effortlessly, put your knowledge into action daily. Then you never have to worry about your dining skills or those of your children when invited to anyone’s home.