When it comes to eating a meal, proper dinner etiquette can make a major impression on others. Whether you are having a family dinner, enjoying a company outing, or meeting with a client, how can you be sure to leave everyone impressed?
First of all, whether you are at a big gathering or small, you should pay enough attention to the host. They are providing the meal, so whether it is your in-laws, a neighbor, or the company, be a grateful guest. Pay attention to people at the dinner. Don’t let your cell phone distract you from conversation.
Once the meal begins, be careful with how you chew your food. Chewing with your mouth open will give others the impression that you were not raised well, since your parents are expected to have taught you to chew with your mouth closed. The other big no no is talking with your mouth full. To avoid any long pauses in conversation, stick to small bites. That way, if someone asks you a question just after you take a bite, you can swallow fairly quickly.
Here’s another eating tip: Bring the food to you. Leaning over your plate to shovel in the food is generally in poor taste. Also, avoid things like slurping your soup or drinking directly from the bowl. A good rule of thumb: No one should be able to compare you to Beast from the Disney film.
Be sure to use proper decorum when speaking, especially if you are at a seated meal. Don’t take seconds until everyone has been served. Say please and thank you when asking people to pass food items to you.
At a large outdoor party, like a barbecue, things are more relaxed, but not all bets are off. The first time you hit the buffet line, take a normal portion of food. It’s okay to grab both a burger and a dog, but don’t pile your plate to high heaven. Double dipping is off limits at any meal regardless of how informal it is. Put some salsa on your plate, and then you can double dip all you want.
Regardless of the setting, be sure to be neat and clean. At an outdoor gathering, throw your own plate away. At a sit down dinner, use your napkin to cover your lap. You only need to tuck it into your collar if you’re a slob… which you won’t be in public. When you’re having ribs with the guys while drinking beer and watching the game, you can tuck your napkin wherever you want.
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