Dinner Table Etiquette: A Crash Course


March 23, 2013 by baileybowthorpe

On Thursday night, I attended a dinner celebrating the founding of Southern Utah University. By any college student’s standard, it was clear that this was probably the fanciest dinner myself or any of my friends sitting around me had been to in a long while.

Everyone was a bit rusty with the dinner etiquette (like which fork to use, which roll was theirs, asking for the salt and pepper, etc.). Luckily, I have a grandma who sets a table with two forks and a cloth napkin to eat a grilled cheese sandwich and who always lets me set the table for her dinner parties, so I didn’t feel completely outside of my comfort zone. There were no major disasters during the dinner, but reflecting on it, I realized that this sort of etiquette is becoming something of the past especially among my generation.

Here are 3 simple reminders about dinner etiquette:

1. When it comes to silverware, always start with the outside and move in. The first fork on your left side is the salad fork, the second is the dinner fork, etc.

2. Knowing which bread plate to take can be tricky, especially when you are sitting at a round table. This one stumped everyone on Thursday night. Your salad plate and your bread plate are on your left, above your fork while your drinks are on your right above your knife and spoon. A good rule to remember in this situation is that solids are on your left, liquids are on your right.

3. To signal that you are done with your meal, put your knife and fork parallel to each other on the plate at the 10:00 and 4:00 position.

The truth is, it’s a lot of fun to have a dinner like this every once in a while. Whether you are the one hosting, or if you are the guest, make sure you know the proper etiquette. I can promise your experience will be much more fun that way!

For more tips and FAQ’s about proper dinner etiquette, visit this webpage created by Virginia Tech career services.


4 thoughts on “Dinner Table Etiquette: A Crash Course

  1. Ready Ok Go! says:

    Nice reminder. I think there’s a mixup in #2.

  2. aly says:

    Or they can call your grandmother!

  3. Heather Smurthwaite says:

    Thanks! I learned a couple of things I won’t forget!

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