5 Dining Etiquette Rules + Giveaway!
have you ever been invited to a fancy event, sat down at a gorgeous table and looked down to see three forks, two knives and have no idea which water glass is yours!? it’s an awkward feeling and i always get a bit panicky in these situations because i am a simple gal that never knew there were such etiquette policies (though i knew no elbows on the table, i wasn’t raised in a barn).
there are dining etiquette rules you must know and i had the opportunity to learn a ton of them in a friendly and delicious way from Linda at Manners Simply a few weeks ago! you can tell it was a few weeks ago because of one picture with my favorite nail polish still existing (thanks sweet husband for a surprise mani/pedi complete with fiery cupcakes and cats).
remember that customs and etiquette vary from culture to country so this information is mainly for north america.
not only did i get my mind blown with all of the amazing information there is to attending fancy meals but also how to host formal and fun meals!
after 4.5 years in the making, linda reed and her business partner rosemarie burns have put together an incredibly informative yet simple dining etiquette book, “which fork do i use?” and i’m nerding out over it.
do you have any idea how hard it was to get this blog post to a reasonable word count? there are so many fun and interesting things that go into planning both casual and formal meals. it’s made me look forward to having a dining table one day that didn’t used to be the entry way table in my in-laws house (it’s gorgeous granite..but it barely seats my husband and me).
heck, you can even rent plates/flatware/glasses for super cheap to host your own parties if you don’t have all the supplies!
let’s focus on the dining etiquette when it comes to eating instead of being the fabulous hostess because the book will give you amazing step-by-step directions, suggestions and awesome diagrams so you can rock your own parties and weekend brunches! see…
Weekend Brunch Set-Up
let’s go back to me panicking at a fancy meal with potential business clients or a gala event for charity and i don’t want to accidentally eat someone’s bread (it’s happened and it was
1) work from the outside of the flatware to the inside
there is a method to this layout and that’s what fun to learn about etiquette, things have a reason! we started with a shrimp cocktail. well, i had fruit cocktail because
i’m a six year old my friend jessica knows me so well, so we obviously started with that little fork resting on the spoon.
next came the soup, so we used the soup spoon (more on that in a minute because my mind was blown). if you are having a separate salad course, use the small fork AND knife on the outside of your main table setting. the smaller fork/spoon combination above the plate is for dessert. whittle away the flatware from the outside in and you will be in good shape.
2) spoon your soup away from you
like i said above, i had no idea this is how soup is supposed to be eaten! first, you never put your whole soup spoon in your mouth when you’re eating a creamy soup, it’s meant to be sipped from the spoon. here’s where my jaw dropped as linda explained the appropriate way to eat soup,
“lean forward slightly, filling the soup spoon about 3/4 full. spoon away from yourself while skimming your spoon across the top where the soup is cooler. gently touch the back rim of the bowl with the bottom of your spoon to remove any drips. do not blow on your soup as a way to cool it.”
did you know this is the appropriate way to eat soup?! i truly had no idea.
3) bread is broken and buttered over the bread plate
let’s first get clear about which one is your bread plate. it’s the one to the left of your main plate. remember “BMW.” it reads left to right, just like the table setting, “bread plate/meal plate/water glass” so you aren’t stealing anyone’s bread or taking drinks from the wrong glass. ew.
you should tear off a bite-sized piece of your bread over the bread plate, not your main plate. also do the buttering over there too and bring only a piece in front of you to eat at a time.
that little guy to the right of the bread plate is an individual ‘salt cellar’ complete with a teeny-tiny spoon. my new goal in life is to acquire some of these.
4) use a fork + knife for controlling your salad
this is an etiquette tip that is slightly more labor intensive but makes you look less a cow shoveling lettuce into your pie-hole.
stab some lettuce with your fork, lift up slightly, then take your knife to fold the ‘fly-away’ pieces back under the fork and stab again. do this until it’s a manageable bite. see linda’s demonstration below:
my husband used to just cut up his lettuce into smaller pieces (not proper) and i used to just shovel it in like the cow example, with dressing all over my cheeks. no joke. try this-it works amazingly even if it’s a bit more effort!
5) how to signal you’re finished eating or ‘just resting’
the book talks more about “continental vs. american dining” style but there is a difference. one of the main differences is that during “american style,” you would cut a bite of food with your knife, set the knife on the edge of plate, switch fork to your right hand and take the bite. repeat as above.
with ‘continental,’ you still only cut one bite of food at a time but you are ‘allowed’ to keep your knife in your right hand and bring your fork to your mouth with the tines down. this cuts down on the clanging of dishes and is less labor intensive.
regardless of dining style, never do these things:
we dined ‘continental style’ during this meal. the “i’m just resting between bites” and the “okay, i’m finished” are also different. below is how you signal you are finished with your course, both utensils to the right side, with the fork tines down.
‘american style’ is the same, except the fork is facing up.
if you are just taking a breather and aren’t finished yet while dining ‘continental,’ then you put your fork tines down but cross it with the knife. regardless of my utensils below, you can tell i’m not done because there are still potatoes on my plate and i would never leave potatoes behind. ever.
this feels like a good time to include a cute picture of jessica and my husband. thanks for hosting this at your home, jessica and devin! she’s the fabulous woman who did an incredibly moving and powerful ‘new wifestyle profile!‘ read it and see her gorgeous wedding photos too.
- always pass the salt and pepper together, they are BFFs (even if someone only asks for one)
- don’t push your plate way from you when you’re done
- blot your mouth with your napkin, don’t do a huge wipe across your mouth
- no personal grooming at the table either (lipstick/blowing your nose/using a toothpick)
“which fork do i use?” is a great gift for someone who is getting married, someone who loves entertaining or even yourself! you can order it from www.mannerssimply.com and feel free to send an email at email@example.com!
the book contains amazing graphics which spell out exactly what everything is in a simple way, without making it seem snooty or complex.
the book even gets into how to eat difficult foods (do you know what to do with kabob or artichoke heart?!) how to set up a cheese course, different ways to serve dessert and instructions on a basic breakfast setting to an involved six-course meal.
i am SO excited because linda and rosemarie are giving away a book to one of the marvelous new wifestyle readers! isn’t it a good thing we both decided to wear loud patterns? i think so.
now i just need to rent a table, some utensils, get my husband to cook everything and we have everything we need for a fantastic party! i truly do feel more confident learning some basics of dining etiquette so i don’t make a fool of myself when i’m out and about.
please note that this giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry beautiful international readers, we’ll get you on the next one!).
enter below and the winner will be selected on 2/23/15 and the book mailed out shortly after!
if you found this useful, feel free to “pin-it”or share so you can reference these tips or pass them on the next time you get invited to a fancy dinner!