Whether attending a dinner party for business or pleasure, there are certain things you just shouldn’t do.
You may also find yourself in a sticky situation where you’re not sure what to do.
Author and longtime butler Charles MacPherson answers all in his new book, “The Pocket Butler: A Compact Guide to Modern Manners, Business Etiquette and Everyday Entertaining.”
Here are 10 pearls of wisdom from his 26 years of experience.
1. Never wear your napkin as a bib.
Unless you’re at the beach with friends casually chowing down on buttery lobster, don’t tuck your napkin into your collar. Instead, place it across your lap and use when necessary.
2. Never use the table as an elbow rest.
We know it’s tempting, but avoid putting your elbows on the table. “Keep them tucked into your body, especially when lifting food into your mouth,” MacPherson advises.
3. Never overreact if you spill something on yourself (or someone else).
We all have embarrassing moments, but there’s no reason to make a big deal out of it. Clean up the mess in a quick and quiet manner. If there are servers, ask for additional napkins. If you spill on another guest, don’t wipe them off yourself. Instead, offer your napkin and apologize.
4. Never talk with your hands while holding cutlery.
If you’re one of those people who can’t tell a story without getting an arm workout, remember to put your silverware down before you start talking. You should also put your cutlery down while chewing.
5. Never reach over the table for the salt.
Simply ask the person beside you, “Would you please pass the salt?” It’s less intrusive than your arm in his or her face.
6. Never hover over your plate to shovel food into your mouth.
Instead of leaning over your plate, MacPherson says to bring your fork to your mouth. (Seems self explanatory, but try eating spaghetti sitting up straight.)
7. Never talk with a mouthful of food.
MacPherson knows this is a given, but it bears repeating.
8. Never turn your nose up to the food being served.
Picky eaters aren’t given a free pass. If you don’t like what’s being served, take a deep breath, try a few bites (MacPherson says you don’t have to finish it), and then fill up on water until dessert.
9. Never attempt to discretely blow your nose at the table.
There’s nothing discrete about blowing your nose. Excuse yourself from the table and go to the restroom or another vacant room.
10. Never leave your napkin on the chair after dinner.
After the meal, place your napkin on top of your plate — don’t leave it on the chair.
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