We all enjoy dining with our friends, family or colleagues. Whether you’re booked in to dine in a restaurant, hosting your own lunch or invited to a dinner party hosted by a friends, it’s important to make a good impression as well as having fun. That’s why a few simple dining etiquette rules and polite table manners can be useful to remember.
Etiquette is seen as an important trait to have. It shows that an individual has manners, and respects their surroundings including the people surrounding them and their belongings. Everyone has a different perspective as to what etiquette involves depending on the situation, but there are some general rules to follow to ensure you don’t make any etiquette faux pas! If you’re in public or have gone out to a restaurant, then the main aspects are; to arrive on time, don’t turn up empty handed if invited to a social gathering such as a party and respect other people and their belongings.
In a professional social situation you would be expected to be dressed appropriately, arrive on time, and have a friendly attitude towards colleagues and clients, and to maintain a professional image. These are just some of the things that are important to get right about etiquette to ensure you make a good impression on your host and other guests.
When eating you must have the napkin on your lap at all times until the meal has finished, do not put your elbows on the table as this is seen as impolite and you should always thank the waiter/server. These simple table manners apply to all meals whether formal or informal.
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There are many tips and tricks to have good etiquette during breakfast; whether regarding the layout of the place set, or behaviour and how to dress. In general it is considered appropriate to lay the table with a butter plate and spread in the top right hand corner, a water glass, cup and saucer set followed by a teaspoon along the top, and then a napkin, luncheon fork, luncheon plate, cereal bowl, luncheon knife and then a table spoon underneath.
Casual Lunch Etiquette
The layout for a casual lunch is similar to breakfast but the cup and saucer set, teaspoon and cereal bowl are not required. If invited to a casual lunch you should always arrive on time if possible but never be more than 10 minutes late. It’s best to try the food even if it’s not to your taste. This is a polite gesture to your host or hostess who will have planned and prepared your food, and also shows that you are willing to try new things. If it’s a friend or family member who is hosting the event, you must always thank the host or hostess and arrive with a small gift.
Formal Lunch Etiquette
If it’s a formal lunch then once again the layout will be different. It will include a red wine and white wine glass next to the water glass, a dinner and dessert fork in between the salad fork and service plate, a soup bowl and dinner knife with a teaspoon and soup spoon. The table is set in this way because four courses are usually served at a formal lunch. Guests should behave in a similar manner to a casual lunch, but should arrive half an hour before lunch and would usually be expected to stay for 30 minutes to 1 hour after the lunch is finished.
Informal Dinner Etiquette
An informal dinner would consist of a water glass and a red wine glass, a salad fork, dinner fork a plate with the napkin (normally folded) placed on top of it, a dinner knife, teaspoon and soup spoon. During an informal dinner you may be served by your host or hostess. The same rules for guests apply to an informal dinner as they do for breakfast and informal lunch.
Formal Dinner Etiquette
For a formal dinner, the place set has a lot more dishes set out to cover multiple courses. Plates are always laid on the table before guests arrive. Place cards will be set out to allocate seating, and dinner will be served by professional staff rather than the host or hostess. Ladies are served first. A formal dinner requires formal attire such as a suit for men and a dress for women. It is also polite to wait for everyone on the table to receive their food before starting the meal.
Overall, there are many different perspectives into what the correct etiquette is and how important it can be. For each meal there are many rules of etiquette, and how closely you need to follow them may depend upon your host or hostesses own views on etiquette. The basic rules always apply and in some cases good table manners might be enough. As a general guide, the more formal the occasion, the more important it is to brush up on your etiquette to make sure you’re not crossed off the invitation list for next time!