How To Eat And What Not To Do At A Formal Dinner

At a formal dinner party everything is just that - formal. Formal dress and grooming is important but what about food handling?

So you've been invited to a formal dinner and want to make a great impression. It's not all about the clothes, the hair and your ride. To completely fit in with that particular setting you'll have to be the total package: perfectly dressed and groomed, conversational and interesting, and don't forget that you'll need immaculate table manners. So you think you know all about table manners? Maybe not. Do you know what foods can be eaten with fingers and which ones shouldn't? Do you know the yeas and nays of handling bread? A little review and some practice at home and you'll be all set.

Most people, whether they've ever attended a formal dinner or not, know certain things about table manners. Most know that it's not polite to rest your elbows on the table or belch but did you know that it's considered bad manners to turn your plate after it has been set on the table? Some people turn their plates while eating to reach another food. Not proper. Leave the plate where it is placed until it is taken away from the table by the servers. And, never reach for the plate as you're being served. If the place setting is already on the table allow the server to place the food on it. If the server is giving you plate and all do not reach out to take it but allow the server to place it in front of you. The server serves the food from the left but as he does don't lean severely to the right. The servers are trained to serve around you so it's not necessary to lean.

Are you one who likes to dip your bread in gravy or sauces? Not at a formal dinner party. Bread-dipping is considered crude and would be frowned upon by others at the table. Do you like to stir certain foods together? Don't do it. Eat portions separately or together but never stir them together on the plate.



Never pick up a drink glass while still holding your fork. Always use your napkin after taking a bite of food if you're going to take a drink. No one wants to see food dangling from your glass. It's actually a good idea to use your napkin almost every time you take a bite or a drink. You could have food or sauce on your mouth and never know it but the others at the table will be mortified.

At most formal dinner's foods are not eaten with fingers. There are exceptions, however. If finger foods are served feel free to use your fingers. Things that are in stick form, such as carrot sections or celery strips are eaten with fingers but something else on the same tray, like deviled eggs are not eaten with fingers. Tiny foods, like olives, are eaten with a fork where as nuts can be eaten with fingers. Small meats with bones in them, like chicken legs or wings, can be picked up and eaten but something large with a bone, like a chicken breast, should be eaten with a fork. Corn on the cob can be eaten with fingers - but delicately. Don't eat all the way across a row before laying the food back on the plate. Take a bite and lay it on the plate. When in doubt wait until you see someone else eat a particular food and you'll know what's acceptable.

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