Etiquette 2nd part. Napkins, cutlery and seating


At informal meals, place the napkin in your lap immediately upon seating. During formal occasions, before unfolding the napkin, wait for the hostess to remove her napkin from the table and unfold it in her lap.

  1. Place the napkin in your lap upon seating.
  2. When leaving the table temporarily, put the napkin on your chair.
  3. At the meal's end, fold your napkin and place it to the left of your place setting.HANDLING UTENSILS


How do you hold a fork?

The continental style prevails at all meals, formal and informal, because it is a natural, non-disruptive way to eat.

  1. Hold your fork in your left hand, tines downward.
  2. Hold your knife in your right hand, an inch or two above the plate.
  3. Extend your index finger along the top of the blade.
  4. Use your fork to spear and lift food to your mouth.

At informal meals the dinner fork may be held tines upward, American table manner.


How do you leave your knife and fork on your plate when taking a break or are finished eating?

When you pause to take a sip of your beverage or to speak with someone, rest your utensils in one of the two following styles:

Continental Style: Place your knife and fork on your plate near the center, slightly angled in an inverted V and with the tips of the knife and fork pointing toward each other.

American Style: Rest your knife on the top right of your plate (diagonally) with the fork nearby (tines up).

When each course is finished:

Place the knife and fork parallel with the handles in the four o'clock position on the right rim of the plate.



During the service of a formal dinner, the food is brought to each diner at the table; the server presents the platter or bowl on the diner's left. At a more casual meal, either the host dishes the food onto guests' plates for them to pass around the table or the diners help themselves to the food and pass it to others as necessary.



At a formal affair, plates are removed by a professional staff. But as most informal meals are served without help, the hostess clears the plates, often with the help of a guest or two. At a family meal, members clear their own plates.



  • If the meal is formal, plates will be removed by the staff.
  • At informal meals, the hostess will probably clear the plates, possibly with one or two guests helping.
  • At a family meal, members clear their own plates.

Leaving the dining room. To signal dinner is concluded, the hostess catches the eye of the host, lays her napkin on the table, and suggests that everyone go into another room for coffee and after-dinner drinks. The hostess rises from her chair.

When it's time to leave, rather than detain one's host with a lengthy good-bye, make the departure brief but cordial.