Beyond the Basics of Table Manners

Learn the proper way to eat bread, the direction to pass food, how to place your silverware at the end of a meal, and much more!
Charlotte Today
Aimee Symington, Etiquette Expert, on Charlotte Today with tips for having great table manners!

While some etiquette changes throughout time, the rules of dining etiquette hardly change at all.

If you want to have really nice table manners, and want to teach your children (and spouse?) to have nice table manners too, here are some tips below as well as a quick TV segment to watch that will take you beyond the basics to have excellent table manners.

Watch TV Segment on Table Manners from Charlotte Today by Clicking HERE.

Q – Before I begin eating, what should I do?

  1. Use each piece of silverware from the outside of the plate working in towards your plate.
  2. Remember that your bread plate is on your left and drink glasses on your right.
  3. Eat bread by breaking off one piece at a time and buttering it individually using your own bread knife and butter.
  4. Immediately place your napkin in your lap when you sit down.
  5. Before eating, wait for everyone to get their food and for the HOST to start eating before you do. If you ar the host, you need to begin eating as soon as everyone has their food.
  6. If your food is delayed for some reason and everyone else has theirs, you can tell the others to start eating without you. If someone tells you to begin to eat, then it's okay to do so, but eat slowly!

Q – I’ve seen people eat in different ways, what is the proper way to eat?

  • If you are using a knife and fork, there are two proper ways to eat – American Style and Continental Style
  1. American style – hold fork in dominate hand and switch hands and pick up the knife with dominate hand when cutting food.
  2. Continental style – hold fork in the left hand and knife in right throughout the meal. Place food on the back of the fork to eat.

Q – What are top things to remember during a meal?

  1. Do not have your cell phone out and do not use it at the table! Don't place anything personal on the table like your keys or purse.
  2. Keep elbows and arms off the table whenever there is food on the table.
  3. Pass food to the right. If something is near you like the bread, you are responsible for passing it around the table.
  4. When you leave the table during a meal, place your napkin on your chair.
  5. If you drop something on the floor, ask the waiter for a new one.
  6. Make polite conversation with everyone at the table. Encourage kids to NOT be on electronics during or before a meal and have them contribute to the conversation as well.

Q – What should I do after the meal?

  1. Place knife and fork at the 10:00/4:00 position on your plate to indicate you are done eating.
  2. Do not touch your plates or stack your things for the waiter.
  3. Do not groom yourself at the table or use a toothpick.
  4. Place napkin on the table when leaving abd push in your chair.

If you are interested in an etiquette session for you, your company, or for your children, please contact me at or go to my website which is