Continuing the Hadley Court series, Celebrating Gracious Living, it’s important to discuss manners at the dinner table. Leslie Wood of Hadley Court asked guest contributor Lynda Quintero-Davids to share her top tips and gentle reminders for manners & etiquette at the dinner table.
Over the years, society has evolved our forms of communication in many ways. Today, we ask Siri for directions to a florist, we email invitations to a dinner party, we text an RSVP, we hashtag a thank you on Twitter or Facebook and we share images of a private affair on Instagram. Within all of this swift movement forward towards quicker and efficient communication, we do seem to however be losing our humanistic values: Communication skills for gracious living. Communication skills are taught to us as a child and are the core of manners & etiquette, from an invitation to a thank you and primarily at the dinner table.
How often do we now see not the glow of candle light on smiling faces gazing into each others eyes but instead faces hanging down into a cold blue-base light glow and no-one speaking to one another at the table? Whether you’re at your Mother-In-Laws for Easter dinner, out with colleagues at a restaurant, a guest at a wedding, or hosting your own dinner party, being polite, having manners and knowing etiquette are all key elements to living graciously. If you are hosting a dinner party, set the tone off right by sending hand written personal invitations en lieu of an e-vite. After the invitations are sent and promptly RSVP’d, via a telephone call or a hand written response as well, here are ten table manner reminders to graciously apply to your next social gathering…
Dinner Table Manner 1: Wait for the host to invite you to the table, sit at your designed place setting, and gentleman: pill out the chair for the lady. When he does, politely smile and graciously say thank you. Wait for everyone to be seated before you start to eat. Pay attention to your host as your guide.
Dinner Table Manner 2: Disconnect from social media and be social in the moment: Under no circumstances: do not pull out your cell phone to tweet, photograph, and do no even place the phone on the table: Be in the now & focus on the moment – smile and enjoy each-others company.
Dinner Table Manner 3: Remember proper posture: Sit up straight, place your napkin on your lap, no elbows on the table during the meal and be sure to keep your elbows close to your body when cutting and eating.
Dinner Table Manner 4: When sipping your wine, it’s best to hold the glass from the stem – this will also help to preserve the correct temperature of the wine as well as keep fingerprints to a minimum on the glass.
Dinner Table Manner 5: Always only use your utensils and the appropriate cutlery – If you are at a formal dinner place setting, this means there will be more than one course. Start from the outside and work your way in. If you still need a reminder or have any doubts, observe your host.
Encourage and teach youngsters the art of etiquette.
Dinner Table Manner 6: Remember these four food basics we were taught as a child: 1. Chew with your mouth closed. 2. Don’t play with food on your plate 3. Eat your vegetables. 4. Be sure also to swallow your food before you speak.
Dinner Table Manner 7: When you need something, politely ask, “Can you please pass the …” – never reach across, especially in front of someone. Gracefully use your inside voice when speaking when at the dinner table.
Dinner Table Manner 8: At the end of the meal, if you need to powder your nose or put on lipstick: Excuse yourself before getting up – Place your napkin next to your plate on the table when you need to leave, then stand up, and push your chair back in. Never put on make-up at the dinner table.
Dinner Table Manner 9: Show your appreciation by always saying please and thank you – even to the waiter in a restaurant or at a catered affair.
Dinner Table Manner 10: Be grateful for the meal – follow up afterwards with a handwritten note of thanks.
Additional table manner information to consider:
If you were invited to a dinner party: RSVP in a timely manner, either with a phone call or promptly returning the RSVP within the invitation. After the dinner engagement, send a hand written gracious note of thanks to your dinner host / hostess.
Take the time to dress properly for the occasion you’re attending – usually noted on the invitation. (ie: casual outdoor gathering vs. a formal dinner).
Engaging in polite conversation at dinner also includes eye contact with whom you are speaking to plus listening – Do not dominate the conversation.
Following table manners is more than knowing which fork to use and knowing how to cut up your steak properly without looking awkward. Having gracious table manners is also about having a polite attitude. Even if you slip in the silverware department, you can make up for it by being polite and graceful in your conversation, which is essential to any well-mannered guest.
Here are two excellent reference guides on manners and etiquette to add to your library:
For more manners and etiquette tips, plus inspirations for entertaining and celebrating gracious living, join Hadley Court on Pinterest here. Leslie hopes with these gracious manners in mind, you’ll be ready to attend your next dinner party, in gracious Hadley Court style.