Top 7 Dinner Etiquette Tips

When you go out to dinner with close friends or family, you might not think much about etiquette. But if you’re going to dinner with business associates, clients, or your future in-laws, you suddenly realize the importance of looking your best.

Don’t worry—basic dinner etiquette doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow these seven tips.

  1. Introduce Yourself

If you don’t know everyone at the table, it’s polite to introduce yourself. Say your name and position in the company as you extend your hand to each guest. Wait for each person to state his or her name and position as well.

Once you’ve made introductions, you’re welcome to open up a conversation. Start out with something that allows your associates to talk about themselves, such as where they’re from or what their work responsibilities are.

  1. Take Your Cues From the Host

If you were invited to the dinner by someone else, such as your boss or in-laws, take your cues from them. Order food that’s in the same cost bracket of what your host orders. For example, if your host orders a soda, don’t choose the most expensive wine on the menu. Don’t start eating until your host does, unless your food arrives first and your host tells you to go ahead and start.

  1. Use the Napkin Correctly

As the dinner begins, unfold your napkin and place it in your lap. Use your napkin to subtly wipe your fingers or lips as needed.  If you need to leave at some point during the meal, place the napkin on your chair and push your chair in. At the end of the dinner, fold your napkin and place it on your plate with the soiled side down.

  1. Know the Table Setup

At a professional dinner, you’re expected to use your utensils from the outside in. Use the farthest utensils for the appetizer, the middle ones for the main course, and the closest ones for the dessert. Keep your glass at the right of the plate and your bread and salad plate to the left of your plate.

While you’re eating, you may rest your utensils on the side of your plate. When you finish, place them in the center of the plate.

  1. Pass the Food

A professional dinner isn’t a free-for-all. Take a serving from each dish and then pass the dish to your right. If you want a helping of something out of reach, ask someone to pass it to you.

  1. Remember Basic Table Manners

Following basic eating etiquette shows respect to those you’re dining with. Eat small bites slowly and don’t slurp loudly or burp. Don’t chew with your mouth open and wait until you’ve finished chewing to talk. Sit up straight as you eat—leaning forward, putting your elbows on the table, and shoveling food into your mouth looks unprofessional.

If you’re eating pasta, cut it into pieces or twirl it around your fork rather than slurping a long noodle. If you’re eating soup, scoop the soup away from you (not towards you) to avoid spilling. Cough or sneeze into your non-dominant hand (the one you’re not eating with).  Finally, if you drop your utensil, leave it and ask the waiter for a new one.

  1. Thank Your Host

Make sure to compliment the food and thank your host for his or her generosity. If your host has already offered to pay for the meal, don’t try to talk him or her out of it. Simply send a thank you card later.

Follow these tips and you’re sure to impress your dining associates. If you’re looking for a great place to eat, consider the elegant dining options at Majestic Star.