Whether you are a young, upcoming professional or simply someone who loves to throw parties, table manners are an important social tool.

Table manners
Table manners are a must in any setting

Nobody wants to be that person who started eating before any of the other guests or who found themselves dipping into their soup with the dessert spoon.

To avoid feeling like the gauche country-cousin, here are a few tips to help you. And remember it’s always a good idea to pay attention to the host or hostess and take cues from them.


Table set for a meal
Photo by Daniel Lee
  1. In some formal settings, name cards may direct you towards your seat. If not, ask if there are seating preferences.

2. Once seated, let the host or hostess set the pace for the meal. Once the host unfolds his or her napkin, you should remove your napkin from the table or plate, and place it on your lap. In general, don’t be the first to do anything and take your cue from your hosts or even other guests.

3. If these is an unavoidable need to get up in the middle of your meal, place the napkin on either side of your plate or on your chair. After you are finished, place your napkin on the table to the left of your plate.

4. If at a restaurant, you should wait until all the members of your group have been served before starting your meal. At a private dinner, start when your host or hostess does. In certain cultures, the hosts may want their guest to start before they do, in which case they will urge you to do so.

At a buffet, wait for a few others at your table to also serve themselves before starting.


Photo by Allie Milot

5. Now for the trickiest part that can have a novice breaking out into a cold sweat – which utensils to use for which food item. A typical rule of thumb is to start with the utensil that is farthest from your plate and work your way inwards.

6. And please, do not use your cellphone at the table or even keep checking your Instagram or WhatsApp posts. If you absolutely must check your phone, excuse yourself from the table and do so.

7. When you have finished eating, wait till others have also done so and your hosts are ready to leave the table. Don’t flee the table as soon as you’re full.

8. Don’t forget to send your hosts a thank you message after the dinner and don’t wait more than a day to do so. Mention the food or good company, ambience or any other extra touches that made the evening memorable.

Follow these simple tips and you’ll soon be the most sought after of guests.