Table Etiquette

The recent royal wedding has people around the world thinking about etiquette. British men bow and women curtsey when meeting the queen. Don’t shake hands with the queen unless she extends her hand first. When the queen begins to eat, so does everyone else.

A French word meaning “ticket,” etiquette is the ticket or label that tells what is inside the package. Your etiquette or manners are a sign of what you have inside. Whether it’s dining with the queen or a business dinner, you can benefit from knowing table etiquette.

Since childhood, most of us have been told to always put our napkins in our laps right when we sit down. According to “The Etiquette Book – A Complete Guide to Modern Manners,” you should wait to remove your napkin from the table until your host removes his napkin. The purpose is to keep the table looking beautiful until all the guests have arrived and are seated.

When the butter comes around for the bread, make sure to put the butter onto your bread plate before spreading it onto your bread. Even butter that comes individually wrapped should be removed from the wrapper and put your plate before being spread.

Women who wear lipstick should leave only one mark on the glass, according to the book. Leaving a ring of “kisses” around the entire glass is not acceptable. Best practice is to blot your lipstick before dinner. Manners International says it is acceptable to excuse yourself after dinner to apply more lipstick in the bathroom.

While some consider cleaning their plate a compliment to the chef, is not necessarily the proper thing to do. Modern etiquette says the decision whether or not to leave some food behind, depends on where you are dining. “The Etiquette Book” says cleaning your plate at someone’s home, may signal to the host that she didn’t prepare enough food. It is best to leave behind a bite or two.

If you are invited to a dinner and have dietary restrictions, etiquette says to communicate your restrictions to the host at least a week prior to the meal. “The Etiquette Book” says legitimate restriction include allergies, medical problems, religious laws and philosophical convictions.

If you are uncertain about your etiquette or if you are planning to have dinner with the queen, take advantage of Serendipity’s Etiquette Advantage Class. Classes are offered by special engagement only but feature a four-course dinner with formal place settings.

Finally, when that invitation from the queen arrives, remember that when the queen is finished eating, so are you.


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