Smacking, Crunching and Slurping, Oh My!

Aimee Symington Headshot

As an etiquette expert, I admit I have a problem! I look at and judge other people’s table manners and I just can’t help myself. But, I know that I am not the only one who’s bothered when eating with someone who chews with their mouth open smacking their food, puts their elbows on the table hunching over their plate, or packs their cheeks full of food like a chipmunk in order to talk.

Most parents care if their children have nice table manners when they visit grandma’s house or when they go to their friend’s house for dinner. We don’t want other people to think we haven’t taught our kids the right things, but let’s be honest; it’s not always easy to teach kids table manners. We don’t always have time, and we might not be sure about all of the etiquette rules ourselves.

If you want to help your children (and maybe your spouse?) have nice table manners, here are 3 basics tips for before, during and after the meal.

Before the meal.

  1. Sit properly in the seat with feet in front of you.
  2. Put napkin in your lap.
  3. Wait for everyone to be seated and for the host to begin eating before diving in.

During the meal.

  1. Pass food to the right, and the salt and pepper together.
  2. Use utensils from the outside of the plate working in towards the plate. Hold your fork like a pencil.
  3. Keep elbows and arms off the table any time when food on the table.

After the meal.

  1. Place fork and knife on the plate with the fork tines up and the blade of the knife facing you. Silverware should be placed at a 10:00/4:00 position as if the plate were a clock face. This indicates that you are finished eating.
  2. Place napkin to the left of the plate only when you are ready to leave the table.
  3. Thank the host for the meal and push in your chair when leaving the table.

Teach these table manners to your family and then have them practice at every meal until they become second nature. These table manners will help them make a good impression when they are at a friend’s house for dinner, out on a date or at a job interview after college. It might be hard at first, but you are teaching them essential lifelong skills!

For more information, children’s etiquette and cotillion classes, tips, and videos on manners please go to Have an etiquette question? Please email me at and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog. Thank you!

Aimee Symington is an etiquette expert who has appeared on The Today Show and is a monthly etiquette guest on Charlotte Today, is the inventor of the nationally-selling boardgame on manners called “Blunders”, and is the CEO of Finesse Worldwide, Inc. with offices in Charlotte and San Francisco.