Have you ever been at a fancy dinner dressed in a suit and tie and there is a person who does not know how to properly behave? You know - the guy who chews and talks with his mouth open, or who burps out loud, or who gulps down their food before others have been served. It is extremely important to know how to have proper table manners and dinner etiquette. Most decisions in the business and professional world are made while you are sitting at a dinner with someone, so knowing how to behave in a formal dinner setting is important.
The first rule for going to a fancy dinner party is knowing what to wear. Appearance is very important because that is on what the person at a formal dinner will base their first impressions. Make sure that your clothes are clean and ironed; a ragged appearance may give someone the wrong idea. The second rule is do not be late! Arrive to the dinner ten to fifteen minutes early and make sure to greet your hosts and thank them. If the dinner is at someone’s home bring something like flowers or a bottle of wine as a gift. An easy “trick” to know what is going on during the dinner is to watch and follow your hosts; their cues will indicate what to do next.
There is a basic way that a dinner table will be set up and it is important to know what utensil to use for the food that you are eating. A basic table setting will include: a napkin, a fork, a plate, a knife, a spoon, a bread-and-butter plate and knife, and a water goblet. A simple way to remember the order things go in is to use the word FORKS. First is F for fork, next is O which is the shape of the plate, the K for knife, and finally S for spoon. We forgot the R but this is still a great way to remember the proper order of your dinner utensils. Your water goblet always goes to the right of your plate and the bread-and-butter plate goes to the left. As for your napkin you may place it on your lap so the crumbs have a place to fall. A trick for when your napkin is too big to fit on your lap is to fold it slightly because it should only cover your lap nothing more nothing less. If you have to excuse yourself from the table at any point fold your napkin and put it on the side of your plate, never on the chair.
Now that you are ready at the table with everything set you may want to watch and wait to see if your host may want to say grace before your meal; it is awfully embarrassing if you are the only one eating while the other guests are waiting to say grace. Once grace has been said you may be wondering when you may begin eating and the best advice is start eating when others do. There is a rule that says never eat alone, but eat while food is hot. Also ,while eating, remember to chew with your mouth closed and do not talk with food in your mouth. Only put a single bite in your mouth so if you need to speak you will spend less time making others wait. Also ,you should bring your food to your face, not your face to your food. Do not lean over like an animal in order to eat your food. Also while you are eating do not put your elbows on the table (mom was right). You never want to reach for something while at the dinner table; instead, ask the person closest to the item to pass it to you. If you happen to spill something clean it up and assist anyone with the rest of clean up, then carry on with your meal. If there is something you find rather unpleasant, like a food you don’t like, do not grab your napkin and spit it back out into it. Instead what you should do is place your fork to your mouth and place the unwanted food back on the fork, if it came in using a fork it should come out using a fork, and then place it on the side of your plate. If it is in the napkin then it is easy to fall out and ruin your clothes or somebody else’s clothes. Some final tips to proper dining etiquette are to enjoy your meal, engage in good conversation with others but mind your manners, and finally turn off your cell phone. There is nothing that signals to me that our conversation isn’t important like you on your cell phone; you can live without Facebook or Twitter for a couple hours. Finally ,to signal that you are done, place your silverware face up on the plate, with your fork on the left and your knife on the right with the blade facing the fork, at the four-o-clock position on the clock. Now that you know these tips and tricks for table etiquette practice them whenever possible because practice makes perfect.