Table Manners


  • Mind your language: don’t ever use unsuitable language or any swear words.
  • Speak softly and speak to the guests on your left and right, not across the table if it is a formal sit down dinner, or to the guests around you at a buffet.
  • Always turn off your cell phone or keep it on silent beforehand. You should not even read text messages during a formal meal.
  • Pass jugs, gravy boats etc. with the handle toward the recipient.
  • Never reach across the table. If anything isn’t directly in front of you, ask for it to be passed.
  • If you spill anything on yourself, use your napkin discreetly. Do not wet your napkin with water from your water glass.
  • Should you drop something on someone else, apologise and let them clean up for themselves
  • Once seated, do not move from your seat on the table unless it is an emergency.
  • Learn about and follow the customs of the country you are in: it is a sign of sophistication.
  • Elbows should not be on the table.
  • Keep your posture erect. At table there is no slouching or leaning.
  • Never rock back in your chair.
  • At a formal dinner, take your cue from your hosts. Don’t start eating before they do and finish when they do.
  • Do not smoke during a meal. Normally most places don’t allow smoking inside, so even after dinner, check with your host if that is alright.
  • Never try and freshen your makeup or brush your hair at the table or in front of the other guests. Use the washroom for this.
  • In an informal gathering, it is acceptable to receive calls/messages, but move away from the party to take your call.
  • Keep conversation to inoffensive general topics,don’t raise personal issues at all, either yours or your fellow guests.
  • If you sneeze, cough or burp, cover your mouth with your napkin and just say a quiet “Sorry” or “Excuse me.”
  • If you get some food stuck between your teeth do not use toothpicks, fingernails, or napkins to dislodge the food at the table. Do it afterwards.
  • At informal sit down meals, pass the dishes to the right. However, take the cue from the hostess.

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