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Dinnerware Etiquette

Observe Dining Etiquette

Knowing and practicing proper table etiquette inspires confidence when dining with those whom you wish to set a good example. It eliminates fear of embarrassment at formal dinners where everyone at the table is observing proper etiquette and is expected to know correct table manners.

Table Etiquette Basics

  • Work from the outside in when choosing which utensil to use. When salad is served first select the fork on the outside of the row of utensils.
  • Hold the fork like a pencil as far from the tines as possible. Use it to scoop food as opposed to impaling it on the tines.
  • Grasp the knife with the blade facing down and the handle held in the palm of your hand. Place the fingers along the side of the knife with the thumb providing opposing pressure to hold it in place. Typically the second finger is somewhat crooked and is used to exert firm pressure to hold the knife when used to cut through meat.
  • Use a knife and a fork when eating appetizers, main course, salad, and dessert and fruit courses. Two utensils make it simpler to handle the food cleanly and neatly.
  • Lay the utensil on the plate or dish when pausing from eating; not on the table or halfway on the table and the plate.
  • Place the utensils – when finished eating – on the plate with the tips at the 10:00 position and the ends of the handles at the 4:00 position. The sharp side of the knife blade should face downward. The fork tines should also face down.
  • Wail for the hostess to remove the napkin from the table and place it in her lap.
  • Remove the napkin ring and place it at the top left of the plate.
  • Do not shake or snap the napkin open. Unfold it and lay it across your lap unobtrusively. Unfold large napkins only halfway and smaller napkins all the way.
  • Never tuck napkins into the collar or belt while eating.
  • Finally, place your napkin to the left of the plate when finished eating and in the center of the plate setting if the plate has been removed. Fold it loosely so that the soiled parts are hidden.
  • Keep the napkin in your lap if coffee is served after the meal.