Using good table manners at a restaurant can mean the difference between a fun meal and a rather unpleasant or awkward dining experience. Whether you and your teens are eating at a casual restaurant or a fancy eatery, keep these tips in mind to avoid offending your hosts or dining companions.
Wait to Start Eating
According to etiquette expert Lisa Mirza Grotts, , you should never begin eating before everyone is seated at the table and has been served their food. The exception to this is if your guest or companion is more than 20 minutes late. At this point, it is okay to begin your meal without them.
Take Small Bites and Chew With Your Mouth Closed
Cut off one piece of your food at a time. Put it in your mouth and close your lips before you begin chewing. Take care not to slurp, smack or make other noises with your mouth while you chew. And just like your mother always said, never talk with your mouth full.
What to Do With Your Napkin
Your napkin should be placed on your lap the moment you sit down. Between bites, dab your mouth carefully to ensure that you haven't gotten any food on your lips, then put the napkin back in your lap. If you must excuse yourself briefly during the meal, place your napkin on your seat while you are gone. When the meal is finished, place the napkin on the table to the left of your plate.
Never Reach Across the Table
If you would like a dish or condiment to be passed to you, never stand up and reach for it yourself. Rather, ask the person it is nearest to to pass it to you. If someone asks you to pass something, it should always be passed around the table to the right. The exception is if the requester is immediately to your left. In that case, you can pass the item directly to them.
Remember the Basics
Do not slouch or lean at the table. Never pick or floss your teeth at the table. Do not blow your nose at the table. Don't place your elbows on the table unless the meal is finished. Never use your phone at the table and keep items such as purses, phones, keys and wallets off of the table at all times. These basics are some of the top table manners to remember according to etiquette guru Emily Post.
Keep the Conversation Light
Unless you are joining a group for dinner specifically to discuss serious issues, keep the dinner conversation polite and inoffensive. Keep your voice at a volume appropriate to the setting; never shout at the table. Do your best to engage everyone at the table in conversation at least briefly to engender a feeling of friendliness.
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