Basic Rules of Table Manners

A few tips and rules for basic table manners...

Napkins should be placed on the lap as soon as you are seated. When you get down from the table, leave the napkin, unfolded on the table, to the left of the place setting.

Sit a comfortable distance away from the table, so that with the elbows bent the hands are level with the knives and forks.

Sit up straight, sit square with hands in the lap and do not fidget. Do not put elbows on the table.

If you are served a meal that is already on the plate, wait until everyone has been served before picking up your cutlery, unless invited by your host to start.

Make sure others have been offered anything they might want from the table, such as butter, water, salt or pepper. Help yourself last and never stretch across people.

Eat at a relaxed pace and pace yourself to match your fellow diners.

Keep your mouth closed and try to avoid making noises of any kind while eating, either with implements against the plate or teeth, or with actual ingestion of the food, eg slurping soup.

Talking while there is food in your mouth should be avoided at all costs - even when you have a conversational gem up your sleeve.

When you have finished, place your knife and fork - with the tines facing upwards - together on your plate.

If you are confronted with a plateful that is not to your taste, try to soldier on to avoid hurt feelings. Always compliment the cook.

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