Many people feel out of place when dining simply because they don’t know how to follow table manners, especially if they have been invited to a nice place. Admittedly, it is difficult to learn every point of etiquette at a glance, but here are a few general pointers. Remember, good manners never go out of style.

Steps

  1. Observe your host. What is he or she doing? The whole point of learning table manners is to feel comfortable when dining with others, and the host is a good place to start. If you are the host, don’t panic. You can usually get away with observing the guest you feel has the best manners.
  2. Emulate your host. Put your napkin in your lap when you see them doing it. Match their rate of eating. (After all, no one wants to have an empty plate when their host is only halfway done with the dish.) If you see them eating finger food with a fork, you must do this also, even if it seems unreasonable. Assume that your host is always right; unless you can definitely tell that they have bad manners, in which case you may follow another guest.
  3. Use the appropriate cutlery. If there are many utensils in your place setting and there is more than one course, start on the outside and work your way in. Again, observe your host if you have any doubts.
  4. Be polite. Consider every action before you do it, and if you have the slightest doubt as to its rightness, don’t do it! You will embarrass yourself and your host. Take small bites; do not chew with your mouth open; do not talk with food in your mouth; and do not place elbows on the table.

Tips

  • As far as wine glasses go, the rounder one is for red wine and the taller one is for white wine.
  • If you are chewing gum, dispose of it before you sit down to the meal. Often, there is no place to put it, and sticking it under the table is definitely not good manners.
  • Following table manners is more than knowing which fork to use and knowing how to cut up your steak without looking like a Neanderthal; most of it is about your attitude. Even if you slip up 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.
  • If you make any loud clattering noises or drop a spoon or something, do not call attention to it. Chances are that no one noticed, or even cared.
  • When it comes to bread plates, cups, etc., many people wonder which one is theirs when dining at a big table with many other people. Always go for the one on the left.

Have you ever walked into a fancy restaurant and seen how they’ve set the tables? Isn’t it amazing? You’re worried because tonight you are having a fancy dinner party but don’t know how to set the table! To make your table look like a piece of art, read on.
Each person's table setting should look like this. Note that the napkin is under the forks, but for your table setting, it should be on the plate, in the ring.

Steps

  1. Buy the things on the “Things You’ll Need” part of the page.
  2. Place the chargers on the table, then put the plates on top of each.
  3. Fold the napkin length-wise, and loop through the ring. Place it in the middle of each plate.
  4. Place the forks on the left side of the plate. The salad fork should be toward the far left, the main course fork closer to the plate. (the salad fork is the smaller one).
  5. Place the knives and spoons on the right side. The knives should be closer to the plate, with the spoons on the far right. Make sure the sharp part of the knife is pointing toward the inside of the plate. It will go in the order of: steak (big) knife, little knife, big spoon, little spoon.
  6. Place the dessert fork above the plate and the dessert spoon above the fork. (The pointy part of the fork will be pointed toward the right, the spoon mouth will be pointed toward the left.)
  7. On the left side of the plate (above the forks), you will place the bread plate with butter knife on top, edge-to-edge.
  8. On the top right, set the two glasses.
  9. Step back. Your work is finished. You have created the Monalissa of Tables!

Tips

  • Have a table cloth that matches the cloth napkins (buy these together in a set).
  • Place candles in the middle of the table (if it is round) or on each side of the table (if it is square)for a good scent.
  • Make sure your house is clean for entertaining!
  • Make sure you have enough food.