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Dining Etiquette

Dining Etiquette

General Tips

  • Wait for your host to sit, and then take your seat.
  • Wait until everyone is served, then follow your host’s lead to begin eating.
  • Never speak with food in your mouth. Take small bites so you can finish quickly and respond to a question or comment.
  • Try to eat at the same pace as the others at your table.
  • Don’t wave or yell to get your server’s attention. Simply wait for him/her to come by or ask another server near you.
  • If someone has something in their teeth, let them know subtly and quietly.
  • No elbows on the table. Place your wrists on the table or your hands in your lap.
  • If there is a problem with your meal, discreetly and quietly let your waiter know.
  • Don’t text at dinner and turn your cell phone off or to vibrate.
  • Thank your host at the end of the meal.



  • Never place a used utensil on the table.
  • Always use utensils, even for traditional finger foods.
  • Don’t butter your entire piece of bread at once. Brake off a small piece, butter it with your butter knife and then eat.
  • When eating soup, dip your soup spoon away from yourself.
  • If you use your knife during the meal, when you are not cutting something place it at the top of your plate with the blade facing toward you.
  • To show you are finished, place your knife and fork parallel to each other with the handles at the 4:00 position, like on a clock, and the ends at the 10:00 position. The knife blade should be facing toward you.


Napkin Use

  • Following your host, take your napkin and fold it across your lap, with the fold facing your waist.
  • If you need to leave the table during the meal, place your napkin folded on your chair.
  • Place your napkin to the left of your plate when the meal is finished.
  • Always fold your napkin before placing it in your lap.
  • Don’t use your napkin as a tissue.



  • Choose water, juice, iced tea or soda to drink. One glass of wine, sipped slowly, is acceptable in some situations, but never in an interview.
  • Order simple foods that are easy to eat with a fork and knife, such as meats, salads or soups.
  • Avoid ordering messy or greasy foods such as spaghetti, large sandwiches or pizza.
  • When in doubt, follow the lead of the host.
  • Don’t order the most or least expensive item.


Table Setting

Formal table settings can be confusing so be sure to refresh your memory with this chart.








A. Napkin B. Salad Fork C. Dinner Fork
D. Fish Fork E. Soup Bowl F. Soup Plate
G. Dinner Plate H. Dinner Knife I. Fish Knife
J. Soup Spoon K. Bread Plate L. Butter Knife
M. Dessert Spoon N. Dessert Fork O. Water Goblet
P. Red Wine Glass Q. White Wine Glass


Bread Plate

A common mistake when dining is using the wrong bread plate or drinking from the wrong water glass. Follow this tip to remember which bread plate and water glass are yours.

  • Make “OK” signs with both of your hands like the picture below.
  • Notice how your left hand makes the letter “b” for bread – your bread plate on your left when you sit down.
  • Your right hand makes the letter “d” for drinks – your water and glasses are on your right when you sit down.


Wine Glasses

Wine glasses can be confusing. Remember each has a unique shape, the image below shows the standard type of glasses.










Champagne Flute, Beer Glass, Chardonnay Glass (white wine), Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon Glass (Red Wine)