meal manners

It takes much time and effort to have an attractive table and a tasty meal. When a cook prepares a  meal, you should respect the time and effort by coming to the meal with a decent appearance, a grateful attitude, and careful consideration for the others dining.  Slouching in your chair, displaying a grumpy, negative spirit, and being thoughtless or selfish can ruin an otherwise wonderful meal.

No one enjoys eating with someone who wolfs his food down, slurps his soup, talks with his mouth full, or who burps loudly.  Manners are common  courtesy shown to others so that everyone can enjoy delicious food in a pleasant atmosphere.  If you practice using good manners at every meal, you  won’t be embarrassed on special occasions by not knowing what to do.  Or you won’t be viewed as  acting rude out of a daily habit that you should not be doing.

When we are at home, it has been said that we act the worst with those we love. That is a sad thing to say. The opposite should be true.  We may wolf our food down because we are in a hurry: or we reach across the table, because we are getting impatient.  We may unknowingly come from outside all dirty and not wash up to make ourselves presentable.

Our family mealtime should be one of the most pleasant times of our day. We should engage in good conversation, instead of monotone answers.  

Here are some things to remember when eating a meal with family

  • Sit up and remember to bring the food to your mouth
  • Wait for a lull in the conversation to ask politely to pass food
  • Answer questions pleasantly
  • Be alert to requests from other family members
  • Use your napkin
  • If you are missing something, like a fork, get up and get it yourself

Using appropriate humor is also good at the table. It creates a happy mood.  Avoid teasing and joke telling at this time. It is a good time to discuss current events, things that are important at your church, and maybe some interesting things that happened during the day.

Whoever is responsible for making the meal, be sure to THANK THEM.  Even if you did not enjoy something, thank them for taking the time to make the food for you to eat.  Always help CLEAN UP AFTERWARDS.  Don’t view your Mom, or whoever is making your meals,  as a slave who cooks and cleans for you.  Ask BEFORE they have to tell you what you can do.

Rules for when you are a guest in someone else’s home, many will apply to home life as well:

  • Leave your personal problems at home, don’t use this time to discuss negative things going on in your life.
  • Stand behind your chair and wait to sit down until the hostess sits down.
  • If you are a boy, you should help the girl sit in her chair
  • Keep your hand in your lap when not using it, instead of on the table
  • When food is passed, take a moderate helping, keeping in mind there are others eating.
  • Lay your utensils on your plate when taking a drink
  • Cut your food into small pieces.  Place your knife across the top of your plate in between cutting
  • Use your napkin frequently, which should be in your lap
  • Chew slowly and quietly with your mouth closed.  Swallow your food before you begin to talk.
  • Wait to begin eating until the hostess begins passing the food.  Pass it to your left.  Pass all the food before you begin eating.
  • Bread or rolls should be torn apart, and butter should be placed on it as you eat it.
  • When eating soup, spoon should be brought up away from you then into your mouth.
  • When you are finished eating you should place your knife and fork across the middle of your plate.  Place your napkin to the left of your plate.
  • If an accidental spill occurs, instantly offer to help clean it up
  • Engage in lively conversations with your hostess, try and get others to talk about things. Do not talk much about yourself.  Avoid topics of controversy.  Make things pleasant.
  • Do not leave the table before your hostess does.  Always ask to be excused before leaving the table.
  • If all else fails, and you are not sure what to do during a meal, follow your hostess’s lead.
  • You can follow up with a thank you card or a quick phone call of thanks.

Conversation table starters

Family meal time is an important time for everyone in the family. Families who eat dinner together regularly are more likely to have stronger, happier family relationships. As families struggle to find amounts of quantity and quality time together, family dinnertime provides the opportunity for both.

I would encourage you to print this list of questions off, and cut them into individual questions.  Roll them up, place them in a mason jar, and set them on your table.  Take a few out at meals, and ask everyone what their answers are.  I am sure you will get a good quality conversation going.


Download conversation meal starters

Here are some added “rules of etiquette” to remember when you are having a meal in a more formal setting:

  • Seat yourself from the left side of the chair and rise from the same side to avoid bumping into others.
  • Sit upright at the table.  Do not rest your arms on the table or crowd the individual next to you.  Keep your arms close to your body to avoid hitting the person beside you.  Be especially careful when cutting food. Place your feet on the floor not under you.
  • Your elbows should not be on the table when utensils are being used.  In between courses or after a meal is finished it is okay.
  • No one should begin eating until all are served and the hostess begins eating.
  • Before a plate is passed for a second serving, place the knife and fork close together across the center of the plate .
  • Take small bites and eat slowly and quietly. Do not attempt to talk with food in your mouth.
  • If you need to put your fork down while eating, place it on the side of the plate to show that you are still eating.  Placing it at the top with the knife shows you are finished and the waiter may clear it.
  • When eating from  a spoon, eat from the tip of the spoon. Soups are eaten from the side
  • Talk about cheerful, pleasant things at the table.
  • Do not sniff food to determine if you like it.
  • If you need to stir your beverage with sugar or cream, only do it once or twice.
  • Do not play with your food or move it around on your plate.
  • Pace your meal.  Never continue to eat long after others have stopped.
  • When drinking water, hold the glass near the base of the drink.
  • Do not crumble crackers or mix foods when served in a formal setting.
  • If you are using catsup, pour on one section of the plate, not over the entire food portion.  Think—-to keep your plate from looking messy.
  • It is okay to use a spoon to stir your drink and then taste it, no slurping!
  • Fingers, not forks, are used to eat such foods as crackers, olives, pickles, radishes, and potato chips.
  • Pick up serving dishes in front of you and pass them to the right.  Take small portions so that all present will have an equal portion.
  • Salt and pepper shakers are to be passed together, even when only one is requested.
  • If sugar is in small packages and requested, pass the container, not one or two packages.  Place paper envelopes on the edge of the saucer or under the rim of your plate.
  • Ask to have an article passed rather than reach in front of a person.
  • Used silverware is left on the dish with which it was used.  Do not leave spoons in bowls or cups, place them on the saucer when finished.
  • Do not blow on hot food.  Let it cool by itself.
  • Accept a second helping, only after everyone has been served once.
  • Never use a toothpick while sitting at the table.  Ask to be excused and use the restroom.
  • Place your napkin on your knees.  Use it to wipe your mouth and fingers as needed.
  • If you need to leave the table, ask to be excused and place your napkin in the seat of your chair lightly folded up.
  • When the meal is finished and everyone is done, place your napkin to the left of your plate.  Lightly folded.
  • Don’t make an issue if you don’t like something or can’t eat it.  Do your best to have a few bites if possible.
  • Avoid touching your hair at mealtime.
  • Use the fork in preference to the knife or spoon whenever possible.  Hold the fork, tines up, lightly in the right or left hand, between the thumb and the first finger.  Rest the fork on the reverse side of the third finger, except when using in cutting, then hold it in the left hand, tines down.  Avoid an upright position of the fork when cutting.
  • Do not hold food on the fork or spoon while talking, nor wave your silverware in the air or point with it.
  • Be sure to tell your host that you enjoyed your meal.
  • Move out of the way when being served a beverage or a dish by a waiter. (just slightly move over:)
  • Remove your jacket before being seated.  Do not place your purse on the table.
  • Never make a phone call when in a formal setting.  Don’t even look at your phone unless necessary.
  • It is proper etiquette for a man to stand when a women leaves the table—to use the restroom, and then stand when she returns.