Maura Graber’s Simple Etiquette Guidelines for Dining at Home, While Visiting, or Abroad

“There were olives, radishes, celery and salted nuts in glass dishes; and about ten kinds of sugar-plums in ten different styles of ornate and bumpy silver dishes; and wherever a small space of tablecloth showed through, it was filled with either a big “Apostle” spoon or little Dutch ones criss-crossed.”   Emily Post on The Dinner Table of Yesterday 


Place setting by Maura Graber and Eda Bierman

  1. Place your napkin in your lap when you first sit down to the table. Work to develop the habit, and you will remember to do it all of the time.
  2. Always watch your host and hostess for “cues” or instructions, when you are unsure of what to do.
  3. Cut with your knife in your right hand and your fork in your left. When dining with utensils, sit upright and bring foods or beverages to your face, not your face to your food or drinks.
  4.  When passing something at the table, say “excuse me” or “excuse my arm” if you need to reach in front of someone to pick up or pass the item.  If asked to pass something from sets, like the salt or the pepper, pass both of them so that they do not get separated at the table.
  5. Break off only one piece of bread, scone, or other type of roll or pastry, before buttering it, putting jams or preserves on it, etc.... Only butter one piece at a time.  The piece you wish to eat, should be small enough to fit wholly into your mouth.
  6. Cut only one or two pieces of food at a time when you are dining.  Cut your salad if the pieces are too large to fit into your mouth.
  7. If dining in the U.S. or Europe: For meals of many courses, use your utensils farthest from either side of your plate.  Use utensils closer to the plate with each consecutive course.  Always use the utensils directly above your plate last, as they are for dessert. Your roll is on your upper left, your drinks are on your upper right.
  8. In situations when you are dining with chopsticks or with your fingers, eat as neatly as possible.  Again, if you are unsure how to dine, watch your host, hostess or others around you who appear to be the best mannered. Follow their lead.
  9. Never slurp your drink, loudly stir your tea, tap utensils on your plate or cup, or wave your utensils about while talking.
  10. Never text or talk on your phone while others are dining alongside you. Remove your “Bluetooth” or earpiece.  If you must take a call or text, politely excuse yourself from the table and retreat to a "cell phone friendly" area in the restaurant.


  1. No cell phone at the table? Well what am I supposed to do? talk to the people around me??? (Gasp).

    But seriously, great tips as always.


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