Being an etiquette consultant, one of the top questions I get is about table manners. The funniest moments also happen, for example, when I am at a banquet and people find out what I do for a living. They suddenly become real stiff and rigid or they will let me know upfront that they do not have the best table manners. Etiquette is not supposed to make you feel uncomfortable or out of place. It allows you to present yourself with confidence and authority in all situations including when you are eating. There are no strict rules when it comes to eating properly, and with just a little practice, anyone can have great table manners. So here are a few tips to help anyone become comfortable at the dinner table whether they are dining with their grandmother or the queen:

  • DO try to taste everything on your plate when dining at someone’s home. Of course, if you are allergic to a certain item that is served do not put your health at risk by trying the food. A good host will most likely check with the guest beforehand to see if they have any food allergies, but if not, try to let the host know early about any food allergies you may have.
  • DON’T talk about foods that you do not care for at the table. It is one thing if you are allergic to a food. It is entirely different to refuse to eat something at a dinner party just because you do not like it. Like I said earlier, try to taste everything on your plate. Your host will appreciate the fact that you at least tried everything. Also, do not tell everyone about the new diet that you may be on that restricts bread and carbs.
  • DON’T reach across someone or the table to get something. If an item is out of reach, do not stand up and reach across the table. Try to get the attention of the person who is close to the item and ask them to pass the item to you. Also, remember that when passing items such as the breadbasket or lemons you should pass the items around the table in a counterclockwise direction.
  • DO research and find out the proper way to eat different foods. Bread is broken into bite-sized pieces and eaten with the fingers. Asparagus in the U.S. is eaten with a fork, but it is eaten with the fingers in Europe when served cold. A lot of people use a spoon and fork to eat pasta, but that it not correct. Use the side of the plate instead of the spoon and twirl the fork around to gather the strands.
  • DO remove gristle from your mouth using your thumb and index finger. Do not spit gristle or bones out into your napkin and then ball your napkin up. Simply place the items on the rim of your plate once they are removed from your mouth.