Monthly Blog - November 2019

Manners 101: Dining Etiquette for the holidays

@agrimanners
Ready, Set... Time to Say Please and Thank You Again.

The holidays are upon us. Family and friends may be visiting. Food may be overflowing in abundance. There are lots of things to do in preparation. Here are the basics to dining with respect. (Follow these rules and make Grandma proud.)

If nothing else, utilize these four rules:

  1. Pay attention to your hosts. Noticing what is going on around you will help you avoid most embarrassing situations. Simple things like waiting to eat until your host begins would be a good thing.
  2. Chew with your mouth closed/do not talk with food in your mouth. Ahem. Yes, we still seem to have a problem with people chewing with mouths wide open. If you have something to say, refrain from filling your mouth first. Put only a single bite into your mouth at a time. This will save you, should someone ask you a question.
  3. Silverware are not musical instruments. Music is wonderful. Having soft music playing in the background provides a lovely ambience for your meal. However, using your silverware as musical instruments is a no-no, as in: stirring your coffee cup and clinking your spoon against the cup. As you take food into your mouth, take care to not clink your silverware against your teeth. Silverware are not musical instruments.
  4. Bring the food to your face, not your face to the food. Sit a comfortable distance from the table, so you are able to lean in gently as you eat. Bringing the food to your face should make a longer space than your face moving towards the food.
  5. Use Grandma’s good china/silver. Families are busy these days. Sit down meals may be a rarity. The holidays provide a lovely time to bring out the pretty dishes, linen napkins and sterling for a nice sit-down dinner. If you are lucky enough to have Grandma’s dishes, share the stories of the dishes with your children. This is a legacy worth telling.
  6. Use your silverware from the outside in. Once a utensil is used, it is not placed back on the table. Rather, it is placed on the edge of the plate.
  7. Say Thank You, Please, and Excuse Me. These small words are magical and should be used liberally.
  8. Conversation: Give everyone a chance to share something good that has happened to them. This includes the children. Practice good listening skills and affirmations. This helps to reinforce the concept of family.
  9. Offer to help clean up. If nothing else, carry your dishes to the kitchen. Check with the host to see if they would like help in tidying up following the meal. If the host declines your offer, respect their wishes. But if the host says yes, be ready to don an apron and handle a nice cotton tea towel.
  10. The formal table setting is this: BMW Bread plate on the left; Main Course in the middle; Water and drinks on the right.
  11. Take a break from electronics. As the host, if you do not want cell phones at the holiday table, you are certainly allowed to make this decision. Have a fun basket ready for everyone to place their cell phone/electronic devices in the basket for the duration of the meal.
  12. Have fun and enjoy your family.
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