10 Dining Etiquette Skills That Will Make Your Valentine’s Heart Sing

Learn some manners before your big Valentine's Day date

If you want to impress your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, try surprising her (or him) with some new dining skills that will allow you to feel more confident, composed, and self-assured.

After all, everyone looks more attractive when they look like they know what they are doing!

Here are 10 etiquette skills to have under your belt before your Valentine's Day date:

1.  Have a small snack before you go: If you are going out on a first date and feeling a bit nervous, eat a small snack so you will be able to handle your first glass of wine without getting woozy. It’s also a little extra insurance that your stomach won’t be growling over the dazzling dinner conversation.

2.  Stay away from your Valentine’s wine glass: If you aren’t sure which water or wine glass is yours, make a "B" and  "D," (under the table please), and remind yourself that your "B" (bread plate) is on the left and your "D" (drink/s) are on the right of your place setting. Now you can pick up your glass and toast her with confidence.

3.  Let your valentine order their own meal: While you may think it’s chivalrous to order for your date, it is also 2013 and the gesture can come across as a bit patronizing. Be ready with some menu suggestions but when it comes time to order, allow her to go first and speak for herself.

4. Steer clear from the cherry tomatoes: While your mother was correct, your greens make you big and strong, those delicious cherry tomatoes can be a tiny time bomb ready to explode all over your beautiful clothes, or worse, your Valentine date. Opt for a chopped salad or field green mix and leave the cherry tomatoes on the side. Diving into a whole, plump little cherry tomato is really not worth the risk. 

5.  Neckties stay in place and other clothing details: Do not sling your necktie over your shoulder to avoid getting it soiled with your food. Keep your coat jacket on for a formal occasion and by all means avoid ordering lobster or wearing a lobster bib on your first date. You don’t want to finish a lovely Valentine meal with the telltale scent of lobster on your hands or face.

6. Salt and pepper travel together: When your date asks you for the salt, pass the duo together to keep them close throughout the meal. It’s not necessary to give a brief dining tutorial, simply say "Just in case you wanted the pepper."

7. Spaghetti is for twirling: Unless you are a young child, never cut up your spaghetti as if you may choke on large pieces of food. Twirl a couple of strands, use a spoon for assistance if you wish, and bite off the end of the spaghetti at the edge of the fork. A better option would be to order the rigatoni and take the pressure off of you, and save your tie or sweater from an inevitable splash of sauce.

8. Excuse me please: That’s all you have to say. While you may feel compelled to announce to the entire table the reason for your temporary exit, it’s far worse to say "I’m going to the restroom to…" A quiet "Please excuse me, I’ll be right back" is all that is necessary. And guys — don’t ask where she’s going!

9. Plan a thoughtful Valentine toast: Mark Twain said, "It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech," it shouldn’t take you that long to plan a short and sweet toast to the one you love, or like! The key to a good toast is to make sure it is heartfelt and sincere. You get points for effort so don’t worry about being perfect, just be authentic.

10. Skip the toothpick: Much like the lobster bib, sucking on a small wooden stick does nothing to polish your image or refine your social skills. If you feel the need to clean your teeth, make a quick detour to the restroom and take care of your business out of the public eye.

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