Top Dining Etiquette Tips for Adults: Before, During & After A Meal

Restaurantbusinesslunch 620x330

When someone asks you to pass the bread, do you know which direction to pass it?

Have you ever been to a formal dinner and panicked because you didn't know which plate was your bread plate? Or, had 3 forks to the left of your plate and 1 at the top and just didn't know which one to use for your salad?

Trust me that you are not alone in not knowing all of the dining etiquette rules. I have taught many dining etiquette sessions to adults all over the world and they all have admitted that they learned something new. So, I am here to help you decipher what is truly important in terms of having nice table manners when out with your family, on an interview, or dining for business.

While there are many rules of dining etiquette, below are the top 3 things to remember for before, during and after a meal to have nice table manners.


1. When you sit down at the table put your napkin in your lap. You are allowed to put your elbows on the table until the food is served, but then elbows and arms must remain off the table.

2. Formal dinners can be intimidating when there is a lot of silverware, plates and glasses at each place setting. Observe what silverware is set and know that you will use each one going from the outside of the plate working in towards the plate. The silverware at the top of the plate is for your dessert. Knowing which is your bread plate and glass is tricky too. To remember, make a small "b' and "d" by making a circle with your fingers and then extending your index fingers. The "b" is for bread, and the "d" is for drink.

3. Wait for everyone at your table to get their food before you start eating. And, if you need to pass something, pass it to the right and always pass the salt and pepper together.


1. Eat using the American or continental style of eating, but not both or something in between. If you are not sure of the rules please look it up, because the one sure way others judge your table manners is by how you actually eat your food!

2. Always keep your personal items off the table during a meal and do not have your cell phone at the table. This rule applies to at home but also for business. Only text at the table if it's an emergency and then you apologize to your dining companion, and if you have to talk on your cell step away from the table so you don't bug anyone.

3. If you leave the table during a meal, place your napkin on your chair. If you drop your napkin or anything on the ground, leave it there and ask for a new one.


1. When finished eating, you need to use your silverware to indicate to the server that you are done. Think of your plate as a clock and then place your knife and fork facing the "10:00" and "4:00" position. The blade of the knife aims towards you, and then with the American style of eating, the tines of the fork face up, and then with continental the tines of the fork go down.

2. If you are dining for business wait until after dinner to talk about work related issues. This way you have spent the time during dinner to build the relationship. Also if dining for business, remember that if you invited the person to dine with you, you are the host and are responsible for paying the bill. If you are not the host, you certainly should still offer to pay your part.

3. It's not polite to groom yourself in anyway at the table like using a toothpick or putting on lipstick. When you leave the table after the meal, place your napkin on the table to the left of the plate.

Looking for an etiquette class for your 5th – 8th grader?

Sign-ups have begun for the new and modern cotillion class in Huntersville this fall called, Impressions: The Modern Cotillion for A New Generation. Click HERE for more information and to register. Click HERE to enter to win a FREE class for your child!

Etiquette class for your group or club

Contact Aimee Symington at or 704.564.6502 to discuss a private etiquette session at your location based on your specific needs, time-frame and budget. Finesse Worldwide, Inc.