Although dining should be a communal and enjoyable experience, it can come with its own set of stressors–from making small talk to making a fool of yourself by grabbing your neighbor’s water goblet instead of your own. I do quite a bit of dining out and with guests around my own table. The settings range from super casual (with the only utensils dishes being wine glasses) to full formal sit-down. As a blogger, PR dinners are a pretty regular occurrence. But as many of y’all know, I also have a corporate career. Corporate luncheons and functions are in full swing this time of year for many of us so what better moment to chat about dining etiquette? I surveyed y’all for questions about dining over on Instagram. Let’s get into the answers to those below!

Dining Etiquette Tips

  • So I got this napkin…now what? Fold it in half (if it isn’t already) and place it across your lap with the crease toward your torso and open side toward your knees. Unless you’re at a BBQ or crawfish joint, do not–I repeat–do not tuck it into your collar! When you get up to use the restroom or something, leave the napkin in your chair. Once you’re done eating and ready to leave the table for good, place it to the left of your plate.
  • Which fork is mine? In general, forks are to the left. Here’s a handy little diagram on that!
  • How do I keep from grabbing my neighbor’s drink? I never know which one is mine! A trick I picked up in college, and still sometimes use to this day, is the “B and D” rule. With each hand, stick out your index finger like you’re pointing at your plate and make a circle with your thumb and remaining fingers. Your right hand should form a “d”. That’s the side of the table where your drink is. D for drink–get it? Your left hand forms a “b” which means that side is where your bread plate, if applicable, is. B for bread. Over time, you’ll instinctively know that your bread is to the left and your drink is to the right.
  • Using fork & knife to cut food (righty), do I switch fork back to right to take a bite? You definitely can do that. It’s perfectly ok within the American style of dining. Once you’ve cut your food, place your knife near the top of your plate and switch your fork over to eat comfortably.
  • Any tips for not looking like a rookie at a nice dinner? Yes! Here are a few:
    • Especially for us ladies protecting our makeup, pat or dab at your mouth with the napkin rather than wiping. This is neater, saves your beat, and is generally regarded as a more sophisticated route.
    • Flip over your mug over if you don’t want coffee after the meal. This is a time and effort saving signal to your server.
    • Pass salt and pepper as a pair and always pass food items to the right. An exception to this rule is when the person to your left wants bread or butter after it’s already gone around. You can pass it straight to them rather than going around the whole table to get to them.
    • When done with your meal, place your fork and knife side by side at 4 o’clock. This is a signal to the waiter to take your plate.

I hope these dining etiquette tips are helpful. If you have any other questions or information to share, just drop it in the comments secion below or shoot me an email. Thanks for reading!

P.S. more etiquette content:

Dash of Jazz Etiquette Series: Dining Etiquette Tips