Welcome back to intro to Etiquette – Melissa Kaylene style. 😉 Today I want to talk about table manners – and what you should *try* to teach your family. I say try because coming from experience, you most likely won’t see all of these things happen overnight. Sometimes it seems like a lot of effort for nothing, but I believe that someday later on down the road when they are older they’ll realize how good it was for them to be taught simple table manners.
These table manners are good for any basic dinner at home or a casual meal at a friend’s house.
Actually sit at the table:
Growing up I didn’t spend many evenings sitting at a dinner table. Dinner was often set out on the counter or left on the stove for everyone to dish themselves up, and we frequently all ate at TV dinners in the living room while watching TV. While this can be fun sometimes, I don’t recommend it being the norm – as it doesn’t create a family bond like meals sat at a table with conversation. Also, leave the cell phones – we have a ‘no phone’ rule at the table.
Say please and thank you:
It’s funny how little things like please and thank you get forgotten so quickly. I always remind and encourage my family to use those little words when passing things around the table or when they are being offered something.
Wait until everyone is served to begin eating:
I was recently eating at a nice sit down meal with a group of writers at a hosted dinner where there was not only our group, but several other tables of guests. Upon each course the chef gave a description of what we were about to eat. There were a couple of people at my table who began eating before everyone else at the table was even served! It’s only courteous to wait until everyone at your table has their food in front of them before you dig in.
Seconds are fine at a buffet / family style dinner:
If it’s a plated meal don’t ask for more unless offered. If you’re eating a relaxed buffet style dinner or a family style where food is shared at the table, by all means have seconds after everyone has had the opportunity to eat and there is some left over. I’d much rather have people enjoy all of the food than be afraid to have seconds leaving me with extra food. On the other hand, if it’s a formal dinner where you are served a plated meal, I wouldn’t ask for seconds unless offered, because you don’t know if there are any leftovers and you wouldn’t want to put someone in the awkward position of having to tell you that.
I try to remind my kids to ask to be excused from a table. Of course, as adults we don’t have to ask to be excused from the table, however if you are getting up from the table before dinner is finished, it is polite to say “please excuse me for a moment” or something to that regards.
Clear your own plate:
Unless you’re at a restaurant or a dinner where there is caterers or staff to clear the table, ask where you can place the dishes. Chances are whoever is hosting it will tell you not to worry about it, but it’s always a nice gesture to offer to help with cleanup. Kids at the dinner table should always clear their plates after asking to be excused.
What other basic table manner do you think should still be taught in the home?