Etiquette? Did you think that went away? Well it hasn’t and it’s actually your friend. Knowing your table manners gives you more confidence in embracing new dining experiences whether it’s for a job interview over a meal, eating in a fine restaurant or at a friend’s home. I believe that following a lead is safest in a more formal setting. In a more casual setting, “rules” seems to be around common sense.
- Follow the host/hostess. Let them provide the signal of when to remove the napkin from the table at the beginning of the meal.
- In a restaurant environment with peers and no identified host/hostess, wait for 2 or 3 people to join the table then place your napkin in your lap.
- DO NOT snap the napkin open or tuck it in your shirt like a bib. Simply open the napkin underneath the table and fold a large napkin in half and place on your lap.
- DO NOT whip off your lipstick with it or blow your nose with it, just gently blot your mouth.
- If you need to get up during the meal, the diner should leave the napkin on the chair (not on the table for all to see). A napkin is never returned to the table until you’re ready to leave; it stays on your lap even after the meal is finished.
- Don’t place your napkin back on the table while others are still eating.
- Experts also disagree what to do with the napkin at the end of the meal but common sense should reign here. Fold it simply and loosely – leaving it on the table to the left of your plate. If the plate was removed, you may place the napkin on the table in front of you.
- Common faux pas: blowing your nose, using it as a bib, and throwing it on the plate when you’re finished.
These etiquette rules were pulled from Etiquette for Dummies, Etiquette Expert Jacqueline Whitmore author of Poised for Success.
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