Etiquette Lunch

Have you ever had to figure out which fork to use, or even how to set the table for a formal dinner? What's the correct way to eat soup?

Just ask a third grader from Montana Magnet School.

They held an etiquette lunch Wednesday afternoon at the Holiday Inn South here in Dothan.

For the past month, the entire third grade class has been learning the rules of table etiquette.

One poem children learned to help them remember how to eat soup is "like ships that sail out to sea, I spoon my soup away from me."

Wednesday, they got to test their skills while dressed in their best attire.

Montana Magnet School plans to make the etiquette lunch a yearly tradition. Extended Web Coverage

Eating Etiquette

  • Dress for the occasion. Formal means tuxedos and ball gowns. Business lunch or dinner usually means you should wear a suit or other professional attire.

  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early if not otherwise specified. Check your appearance.

  • Greet your host(s). Shaking hands is the usual way, particularly if it is a business function. If you are wearing a coat, ask where you can put it.

  • Wait to go in to dinner or sit down until either your host(s) say to sit or until they are seated. Leave your jacket on until dessert comes, then place it around the back of your chair.

  • Put your napkin on your lap. If it is a large one, fold the top half down.

  • If you are ordering from a restaurant menu, avoid asking for changes to the item, the most expensive meal option, or food that will drip or slip.

  • If you are ordering wine, the simple thing is to ask the host or waiter to recommend something. White wine is recommended for fish, chicken, and vegetables; red for red meat and heavy dishes like lasagna. Beer works with hot food. If you are there as part of an interview, do not drink more than one glass.
    Whoever orders the wine will have a small amount poured into the glass to taste. Smell it delicately, sip it, rolling it around on your tongue, then swallow.

  • It is OK to order a drink that does not contain alcohol.

  • Use your eating utensils from the outside in. If you are unsure about anything, watch your host or others around you.

  • Pass to your right. If someone asks for the salt, pass both salt and pepper. Don't reach for something on the table; always ask the person nearest to it or to you to pass it.

  • Your beverages should be on the right of your plate and food like bread and salad on your left. This will help you avoid eating or drinking someone else's meal.

  • If soup is served, remember to spoon away from you. This helps stop the drips. Leave the spoon turned over in the bowl when you are finished.

  • Hold your knife in your palm with three fingers around it, the index finger on the top, and your thumb on the inside of it. Hold it gently and use pressure from your index finger and thumb to cut.

  • After you have cut a piece of food, put your knife down on your plate with the blade to the inside and switch your fork to your other hand to eat.

  • When butter is being passed, cut a pat and place it on your bread plate.
    Tear off a small piece of bread to butter. Never butter the whole slice. Lay your butter knife down with the blade to the inside.

  • Use your knife or a piece of bread to help corral the pesky vegetables, never use your finger.

  • Talk to everyone around you, but don't yell at someone down the table. Don't talk when your mouth is full.

  • Don't put your elbows on the table; in fact, unless you are cutting something that requires both hands, your idle hand should be in your lap.

  • If coffee is served, it usually comes with a teaspoon you can use to add sugar or stir.

  • If you have dessert or fruit, the dessert fork or spoon will either be above your plate, or will be served with the dessert.

  • Use the restroom to pick food out of your teeth or repair your makeup. If you have to excuse yourself from the table, place your napkin in your chair. Women, if you are in a very high-class restaurant, you might find an attendant in the restroom. You are supposed to tip that person if she provides any service to you.

  • When you are finished eating, place your knife and fork in the middle of the plate with the handles resting on the plate. Fork tines should be turned down and the knife blade turned in. Place the napkin to the right side of your plate or on your chair when you get up.

  • The host(s) should pick up the restaurant tab, so don't offer. But it never hurts to have money or a card handy just in case. Thank your host(s) for a wonderful meal.

    Source: (The Career Planning and Placement Office) contributed to this report.