There are a variety of items on the table that are to be shared with one’s dining companions. No, we are not talking about one's bread plate. That is a topic for another day. Rather, today we are talking about salt and pepper shakers. Salad dressing. Condiments. Breadbasket. Butter plate. Coffee pot. Cream. Sugar. There are some rules of the road when it comes to sharing these items when dining with others.
First, if there is a communal item in front of you, pick it up and pass it around, even if you don’t want to use it. It is your job to make sure others have easy access to it. Don’t wait for someone to ask for it, except if it is the salt and pepper – those must be asked for before passing.
Second, if at all possible, pass to the right. If all items are passed in the same direction, it avoids traffic jams. However, if everyone already started passing to the left, go with the flow.
Third, place handles toward the person who is going to use the item next.
Fourth, place small items on the table, not in someone’s hands. So if someone asks for the salt, place it and its partner the pepper, on the table. This avoids spills.
Fifth, do not shortstop. Shortstopping occurs when someone asks for something to be passed to them (for example, the breadbasket) and the person who begins to pass the requested item, or others along the way, take or use the requested item on its way around the table. Bad form. If someone asks you for the breadbasket, do not take a roll for yourself before you send the basket on its journey around the table. And if you are one of the people passing the breadbasket along the route, you should not take a roll as you pass it along. This is not nice. Do not do it. It is considered rude.
So what do you when someone’s request for the breadbasket sparks your interest in a dinner roll? Be marvelously well-mannered and politely ask for the breadbasket back after it reaches its intended destination.
Have a marvelous week - Catherine