10 Dining Etiquette Tips to Impress Auntie Mildred this Thanksgiving and Christmas

By: Sally Riedel

     The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are around the corner and whether you're dining with family or with business associates, making a good impression is a requisite for success. Unfortunately for many, poor manners and disrespect have created a crisis of degenerating civility. Knowing the basics of protocol will help you succeed in almost any environment - business or social. For this reason, we have prepared the following list of 10 tips for avoiding dining faux pas:

  1. No "Napkin Origami" please. Don't mistake your folded napkin creation for a centerpiece. Always place it in your lap after the host or guest of honor has placed his/her own napkin. Never shake it out, snap it or use it as a handkerchief.
  2. It isn't "first come, first served." Always be patient and wait until everyone has been served. A common and embarrassing mistake is to start eating before the host or hostess has had a chance to say grace or present a toast.
  3. Bend at the knees. Always stand-up when anyone approaches your table or new guests are seated. The La-Z-Boy syndrome indicates that you simply cannot be bothered to stand-up and is a sure way to make any guest feel unwelcome.
  4. Don't be a food critic. This is especially true when you are a guest, as it can be insulting to your host or hostess. Also, never address your server as boy, son, honey, garcon or dear.
  5. Add salt or insult? Never season your food before tasting it. Seasoning your food will show a lack of confidence in the chef and is a surefire way to insult your host.
  6. Soak in the toast mentally not physically. Never drink to a toast given to you. This is akin to patting yourself on the back. Instead, politely acknowledge the toast and thank the speaker once he or she has finished the toast.
  7. Messy Marvin should be neither seen nor heard. Slurping, smacking or otherwise eating food in a noticeably audible or visible manner is never pleasant for those who are present. Also, never talk with food in your mouth or on your utensil. The last thing you want to do is eject food at the person to whom you are speaking.
  8. Let it ring, let it ring, let it ring. Avoid taking calls during meals, particularly on cell phones. Accepting calls while in the company of guests serves as a veritable slap in the face. If you absolutely must take a call, kindly excuse yourself away from the table.
  9. No poking unless choking. In most cases, dislodging stubborn food particles from your teeth is forbidden at the table. Discretion is key so excuse yourself and leave the room. Picking with any implement whether it's a napkin, toothpick, finger or dental floss can repulse your dining companions.
  10. And ALWAYS remember to thank the host or hostess. Showing gratitude is the key to being a gracious guest. A handshake and a polite "thank you" provide a sufficient close to the occasion.

     Ms. Riedel is Director of Marketing at Corpedia Training Technologies

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