Proper Dining Etiquette, Table Manners – 10 Tips

Table manners are known to be the rules of etiquette used when eating. The culture certainly varies from all over the world. It’s very unpolite to eat with your hands in the typical western culture, but in countries such as Ethiopia, India and Indonesia, eating with your hands is completely normal and is a sign of gratitude.  Burping is also something we would consider rude towards the host and everyone else sitting nearby. This is however considered a normal act and is a sign of the guests enjoying the food in countries such as Turkey, China and some countries in the middle east. As you can see, proper dining etiquette matters a lot depending on where you are in the world. In this post, we will cover the most important table manners that you need to know. Wether you are going on a business meeting, a date, an important dining, or even at the family table – these dining etiquettes are something you should know.


Very Basic dining etiquette:

1.Do not slurp, burp or chew loudly

Be careful of making unecessary noises that can potentially ruin other people’s experience with the food. Although it may be normal for you to chew with your mouth full, others may find it very disturbing and you could therefore give a very bad impression of yourself doing so. Slurping and burping is of course unacceptable aswell.


2. Do not drink with food in your mouth

You should never mix eating with drinking. Never take a sip before you have swallowed the food first. You’re not in the wilderness, nor at your brothers basement eating a pizza slice infront of the tv. Drinking and eating at the same time gives other’s the idea of 1. the food is too dry to swallow. 2. It gives them the image of what’s going on in your mouth…


Advanced, yet important dining etiquette:

advanced dining etiquette

3. Napkin Manners

Unfolding your napkin and placing it on your lap is a sign of good table manners. At more formal dinings, you may want to wait for the host to unfold their napkin first. The napkin should also never be used to anything but carefully cleaning around your mouth. For example, you do not want to blow your nose with it or spit food into it. However, sometimes we take a bite of something that is way too hot, or is a taste we are not able to deal with. In that case it would be ok to smoothly use the napkin. Another formal dining etiquette rule is to never place the napkin anywhere on the table. When you are done with your meal, simply place the napkin at the top of your chair.


4. The Ettique of seating

When you are walking towards the dining table, don’t just find your chair straight away. If your dining table consists of 6 or more people, it’s a common thing to let up the chairs on the end of the table for the most “important” people. These would typically be the host and family of the host, but it can also be the one you’re celebrating.


5. Don’t try to help the waiter

This may seem like a strange table etiquette, but it’s also considered clumsy and gives other impression that you have no been to a fine dining before. Do not stack plates for the waiter. They know how to do their job.


6. Paying etiquette

Good table manners also include little to no trouble with paying. The bottom line is that the host should always pay and therefore there should never be any questions about who should be paying. This is however a matter of gender, age and also countries. In formal dinings in Italy, a woman never pays, even if she’s the host.  If the woman is a host, a male guest’s request of paying should always be accepted.  This is of course a matter of age too. A young couple going on a date where nobody has a steady income, should not mean that one should specificly be paying for the other.


7. Be polite to the waiter

Just because your waiter is serving you food, doesn’t mean that you should be unpolite to him/her. A common mistake is whistling at the waiter to grab his attention. This is considered very rude and should never be done.  Instead look for a possibility to make eye contact and make slight raise with your hand to grab his attention. It’s always considered proper dining etiquette to always say “please” and “thank you”. When you order,  propper table manner is saying “i want this steak please”. And a “thank you” when you get your food served.


8. When to start eating

This is perhaps the most discussed dining etiquette.  Some people say that you can start eating if the food is served warm. Other’s say that it’s dependant on how many people that are sitting at the table. The bottom line is this: Look around you and see what others are doing. Imagine being at a big important diner with 10-20 people and you start to eat as soon as you get your food. You start because you think it’s proper dining etiquette to eat because your food is warm. Then you look around and you see that other’s have also been served their meal, but they’re not starting. This is a situation you want to avoid. Therefore you should always wait to see what the host is doing. You should wait for the host’s signal to start eating. Your reputation is not worth ruining just because your food may be slightly colder.

9. Etiquette on what to order

Should you go for the expensive 6 course meal and have yourself a glass of champagne? Don’t forget that it’s most likely not you that is going to pay for the meal. Proper etiquette says that you should always let the others set the standard, wether this is the host or other guests. You should never buy something that is clearly more expensive than the other guests, and certainly not give yourself a glass of champagne unless you know that’s fine. Another important table manner etiquette is to look for how many courses the guests are ordering. If a guest is ordering a 3 course meal, it’s considered proper manner to order the same amount of courses to avoid having them eat alone.


10. Rest cutlery when talking to others.

When you are having a conversation with someone, simply place the cutlery near the senter of your plate. Conversation is inded a part of the general table etiquette and if you’re eating during a conversation, it gives the impression that you’re not interested in talking. Take your time with eating, and don’t eat when you’re having a conversation.


If you follow all of the 10 steps of proper table manners, you can consider yourself a master of proper dining etiquette.



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