Dining Etiquette 101: 5 Tips for Good Dining Manners

Mastering dining etiquette is essential for creating a positive impression and enjoying social and professional meals. Whether you are dining at a formal event, a business lunch, or a casual dinner, good manners are always important. Here are five essential tips for good dining manners to help you navigate any dining situation with confidence and grace.

1. Identify the Dining Table Basics

Understanding the basics of a dining table setting is crucial for proper dining etiquette. This includes knowing which utensils and glasses to use. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Forks: Use the fork farthest to the left for the first course. Work your way inward with each subsequent course.
  • Knives: The knife closest to the plate is for the main course. Knives are typically placed to the right of the plate.
  • Spoons: If soup is served, the soup spoon will be on the outermost right side as it will be the first course of the meal.
  • Glasses: The water glass is placed above the knives. Wine glasses are arranged from right to left in the order they will be used (e.g., white wine glass, red wine glass).
  • Dessert cutlery is at the top of the place setting in US formal dining.

2. Chew with Your Mouth Closed and don’t talk with silverware in your hands.

When having a conversation at a table, put your silverware down when speaking. Another one of the most basic yet crucial aspects of dining etiquette is to chew with your mouth closed. This simple act shows respect for those around you and maintains a pleasant dining atmosphere. To practice this:

  • Chew quietly without making noises.
  • Keep your lips together while chewing.
  • Avoid speaking with food in your mouth; wait until you have swallowed before engaging in conversation.

3. Keep Your Phone Away

In today’s digital age, it’s tempting to keep your phone out during meals. However, good dining etiquette dictates that your phone should remain off the table. Here’s how to handle it:

  • Place your phone on silent and keep it in your pocket or bag.
  • If you are expecting an urgent call, inform your dining companions at the beginning of the meal.
  • Excuse yourself from the table to take any necessary calls. Keep calls short as your dining companion should not be waiting for long by themselves at the table. 
  • Avoid taking photos or videos of your food in formal dining, as it can be distracting to fellow diners. 

4. Use Your Utensils Properly

Proper use of utensils is a fundamental part of dining etiquette. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re holding and using your utensils correctly:

  • Hold your fork in your left hand and your knife in your right hand if you are using both.
  • Cut your food into bite-sized pieces and then lay your knife down before switching the fork to your right hand to eat.
  • Avoid using your utensils like a pen or stabbing at your food.

5. Don’t Reach Across the Table

Reaching across the table can be disruptive and impolite. Instead, politely ask someone to pass what you need. Here’s how to do it graciously:

  • Use phrases like, “Could you please pass the salt?” and always remember to say “thank you” afterward.
  • Pass items like bread baskets or condiments to the right to maintain order and flow.
  • Refrain from leaning or stretching across others to reach for items.

6. Use Your Napkin Correctly

Napkin etiquette is another important aspect of dining manners. Here are some key points:

  • As soon as you sit down, place your napkin on your lap.
  • Use your napkin to dab your mouth or fingers, not to wipe your face or blow your nose.
  • If you need to leave the table temporarily, place your napkin neatly on your chair.
  • At the end of the meal, fold your napkin loosely and place it to the left of your plate.

Practicing good dining etiquette is not just about following rules; it’s about showing respect and consideration for those around you. By understanding the dining table basics, chewing with your mouth closed, keeping your phone away, using utensils properly, asking politely for items to be passed, and using your napkin correctly, you will display excellent dining manners that will be appreciated in any setting. These tips will help you create a pleasant dining experience for yourself and your companions, ensuring you leave a positive impression.