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Three dining mistakes that signal it's time to brush up on your table manners

Usually at this time of year people think of brushing up on their dining skills because they are either hosting a large holiday dinner, are going to be a guest at someone's home, or have a holiday-work dinner to attend and don't want to make any missteps in front of the boss, a client, a colleague or friends & family.

Whatever the reason, we love the focus on proper dining skills!

Well, this year is a bit different. Most of us are planning to stay home this holiday season and instead will enjoy a much smaller and more intimate holiday celebration comprised of those with whom we live. But that doesn't mean table manners don't matter! And the great thing about table manners is that you have multiple opportunities to practice - every time you eat! The key is to practice - because practice makes practically perfect!

Many people get intimidated by dining skills - thinking they're trying to be someone their not, acting snooty, and the like. This could not be farther from the truth. Marvelous manners - including dining skills - are for everyone. And they're free to learn. And when you possess marvelous manners you are showing respect for yourself and others around you.

Once you learn proper dining skills you'll feel more confident and comfortable dining with others. And you'll enjoy yourself more because you won't be worrying about which fork to use or where to place your napkin when. This positive, more joyful and elegant demeanor coupled with your eating neatly, quietly and with the consideration of others in mind - will make you an ideal dining companion! Post-COVID the dinner invitations will pour in!

We wanted to share with you the top three mistakes that signal you don't have marvelous table manners.

  1. Not waiting to eat. Eating before others at your table are served is considered rude. However, you may do so only if the person who hasn't yet been served says, "please go ahead and enjoy your food before it gets cold". You then begin because you don't want that person feeling uncomfortable and responsible for your cold dish. When there is an official "host" to a dinner, guests are to wait for them to start eating and then follow suit. However, if the host says for whatever reason, "please begin" then you should graciously comply. But until those two pleas to begin eating are uttered, a guest is to wait for everyone to be served and for the host to pick up their fork.

  2. Putting your napkin in the wrong place. There are rules of napkin etiquette. We love napkin etiquette and could literally talk about it for an hour - but to be brief here, know that when you are leaving the table mid-meal and plan to return, the napkin is to be placed on the seat of your chair. Not the arm. Not the back. Not the table! The napkin is gently gathered and placed on the seat of the chair before you push it in after getting up. A used napkin only goes on the table when you are finished eating. It is then loosely gathered and placed to the left of your plate or on the spot where the plate once was but has since been removed. A napkin never goes onto a dirty plate.

  3. Shortstopping. If someone requests an item be passed to them - the bread basket, the butter dish, the salt & pepper, the creamer, the sugar, the salad dressing - you may not stop it on its journey and use it before sending it on its way. That is called shortstopping and is considered rude. Instead you politely pass it to the person who asked for it. Once they use it you politely ask for its return.

Whatever your holiday dining experience is this year, we hope it is marvelously well-mannered and joyous!


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