If you have watched Downtown Abbey, then you can see there is an art to presenting a dinner party. However, a successful dinner party does not just rely on the host, but the triumph of the evening also lies with the guest. It may not seem credible, but the actions of the guest can truly reflect their manners and can offend others in the room.
Some table manners are either forgotten or overlooked and while you may be eating alone, or not eating in a formal function, excellent table manners should still apply.
It is said that ‘Practice makes perfect’ and that is true when it comes to superb table manners. Here are some guidelines that will make you an outstanding dinner guest;
As a child, one of the first things we are taught when at the dinner table is to never eat with our mouths full, even if you have something witty to add to the conversation. Keep your mouth closed when eating and avoid noises at all costs.
Sit a comfortable distance away from the table and place a napkin on your lap as soon as you are seated. When leaving your chair, place the napkin, unfolded, to the left of your place setting. When sitting, sit up straight with your elbows bent and never place them on the table. Keep the elbows bent so that your hands are level with the knife and fork.
When eating dinner
We mentioned in the basics that you should never eat with your mouth open or talk when eating. This is also true for starting. Ensure that everyone is served before picking up your cutlery unless the host has invited you to start. When eating, eat at a relaxed pace and match it to the pace of the other guests.
Help yourself last when it comes to items on the table such as butter, water, salt or pepper and offer these to anyone.
When finished, place the knife and fork, with the tines facing upwards , together on the plate.
As with eating, there is an art and etiquette to using your cutlery. Using it properly projects the finest of table manners.
Always hold the knife firmly in your right hand with the index finger along the top, but never on the blade. When used with a fork, the fork should be held in a position the same way as the knife and with the prongs down.
Cutlery should be rested on the plate/bowl between bites and should never scrape on the tableware (Especially if your guest is using fine bone china) and avoid clanking it against your teeth.
Depending on the formality of the occasion, the guest may use a range of cutlery, but always with the fork to the left of the plate and the knife to the right with desert spoons at the top of the plate. When being faced with more cutlery tools, work from the outside inwards.
Your host may decide to use their best tableware such as fine bone china, to create a sophisticated feel for the occasion. Ensure that you take great care when eating off the plates, scraping your cutlery against it is not only rude, but may damage the hand painted patterns on the china.
Following these brief instructions will not only display your finest table manners, but may cause you to get invited more often.
By Harry Price
Harry Price is a free-lance writer who enjoys playing poker with the guys, contributing to technology research and spending time with his family and dogs.