Etiquette Dinner

12 November 2008

A few weeks ago I attended a dinner and networking event led by an etiquette consultant. As a proud owner of this book and a generally sophisticated person (at least I like to think so!), I was surprised by the number of etiquette details that had escaped my upbringing thus far. Granted, most could be classified under “minutiae,” but still…

In the interest of learning something new every day, I thought I’d pass along a few of my new bits of gracious dining knowledge.

1) Always dip your soup spoon away from you to scoop your soup. Bend at the waist to get nearer to your bowl, don’t hunch over the table. (That last part I knew!)

2) If you are nearest to the bread basket, you are the one to begin its round around the table. Always offer (but don’t pass) it to your neighbor on the left first, then take one for yourself, then pass it to the neighbor on your right. Bread is the only course you offer to the left – the others you should simply pass to your right.

3) In a business setting, the more senior converser should always be the one to initiate handshakes and a business card exchange. This is one “rule” I find to be frequently ignored.

4) Always match your host course for course and drink for drink – if they order an appetizer, you should, too; if they drink coffee with their dessert, consider ordering tea. For light or picky eaters this could be an obstacle, but I think we can all agree it’s a good excuse to order something like this:

My favorite takeaway from the evening, however, was the simple idea that manners are only important so far as they put others at ease – whether that means a host ensuring none of her guests are still eating long after everyone else has finished, or a guest knowing the correct finish placement of a soup spoon so as to not confuse the waiter and cause a commotion.

What do you think – are rules like these still important, or are they old-fashioned and outdated?

{All photos by the dreamy photographer Victoria Pearson}

Notify of
1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
July 7, 2010 6:37 pm

I had fun looking through your old posts to find one to comment on. :) I attended a business dinner at BYU that taught these things, but I confess I didn't know about the matching host course for course thing.

That is one I can gladly get on board with. Unless my host never wants to order dessert. That would be sad.