10 Errors to Avoid Making at the Dinner Table Slideshow
April 19, 2011
1. Forgetting About Your Napkin
It's there for a reason — so use it, don't lose it (especially on the floor). Because no one wants to walk around with evidence that a tomato sauce-covered meatball or bite of lasagna landed in their lap.
Place your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down, setting the folded half on top and closer to your waist until you need to use it. The napkin should remain on your lap until the end of the meal, and only then should it be placed to the left of your dinner plate.
2. Moving Your Place Setting
While at home you might be the king or queen of the house and entitled to as much space at the dinner table as you like, you don't have the liberty that much much elbow room when in another's home. Thus, when sitting down at the table, never rearrange the table setting to make things more comfortable for you before everyone else sits. (Plus, being cozied up next to your neighbor sets you up perfectly to elbow them in the ribs if they bug you.)
3. Eating Before Others
Put your ego aside and wait for everyone to be served before you begin eating — You won't starve to death. And always make sure that your host eats first, unless you are instructed to eat ahead of your host — just in case someone did poison the food, it's better to be safe than sorry.
4. Blowing on Your Hot Food
You could patiently speed up the natural cooling process by gently stirring your hot soup around, letting the steam release. But didn't you know that splattering all over your place setting and dinner guests by forcefully blowing air on your spoonful of soup is one of the latest trends in fashion?
5. Reaching Across the Table
While some might like a glass of red wine spilled in their lap, it's wise to ask for someone to pass the salt or bread rather than reaching. You can even think back to the classic Grey Poupon ads and speak with an accent. "Would you please pass the salt and pepper?"
As well, when passing food, always pass it around the table to the right. Because if you pass it to the left... well, do you really want to know what happens then?
6. Dropping Your Silverware (and Picking It Up)
If that sauce-covered fork hits the ground (beige carpet, to be exact) you could discreetly ask for a new one (but then the host would know who ruined their $800,000 carpet). Alternatively, why not pick it up, lick it off, and leave the now-clean evidence on your neighbor's plate. It's your choice.
7. Improperly Buttering Your Bread
Always place butter from the butter dish onto your bread plate, taking care to butter your bread one bite-sized piece at a time. Never butter your bread directly from the butter dish, and never butter a whole slice of bread at once. That way, you can inspect each bite of bread and bit of butter, in the event your host tries to slip you something moldy or rotten.
8. Resting Your Utensils (When Done)
When you're finished with your meal, never place your dirty fork and knife back on the table or placemat. Didn't you know hosts and hostesses are now charging their guests fees for the cost of cleaning spots and spills left on the tablecloth?
Instead, signal that you’re are done with the course by resting your fork, with the tines up, and knife, with the blade in, on your dinner plate with the handles resting at five o'clock and tips pointing to ten o'clock. (That is unless you'd rather accidentally stab yourself with your knife when reaching for your wine glass.)
9. Stacking Plates
Unless you're going back for seconds, don't clear your plate until everyone else is finished and the host/hostess begins to clear. And don't stack your plate on your neighbor's plate (or vice versa) to challenge them to see who can build the tallest tower of leaning dinner plates — when the plates do fall, it might result in you missing out on future dinner party invitations (free dinner!).
10. Leaving Your Spoon in Your Coffee (or Tea)
After adding cream or sugar to your coffee, place your coffee spoon on the saucer rather than leaving it in the coffee cup. That is, unless you enjoy trips to the emergency room to care for burned stomachs, legs, and laps...
And if you do not want coffee, quietly place your hand over the cup when coffee is served, rather than turning the cup over — because that's considered an insult to your host.