Basic Dining Etiquette & Table Manners

AFS dining.jpg

Table Manners & Dining Etiquette

Which fork do I use first? When can I start eating? How many meals can I order? What is fine dining etiquette? 

Dining etiquette is more than just table manners.

Here are some great tips from Australian Finishing School on table manners, dining etiquette and which fork to use first.

1.             Wear appropriate clothing.

Make sure you’re dressed accordingly. If you’re going to a fancier restaurant, skip jeans and tennis shoes and wear something a little nicer. If you’re not sure what the proper attire is, ask the restaurant in advance. 

2.             Wait to be seated in signs require so. 

This is policy at many restaurants, but even if a restaurant offers to seat you before everyone arrives, it’s polite to wait for your entire party to arrive before being seated.

3.             Don’t leave your phone on the table. 

This one seems obvious, but take your phone, keys, and other belongings off of the table. And don’t take your phone out to text. This sends a message to your company that whoever you’re texting is more important to you than they are. Sending a reply message or email can wait until dinner is over, but if it’s urgent, excuse yourself before taking out your phone. Not texting at the table is just one of the basic etiquette rules. If you need to take a phone call as your company first prior to food arriving.

4.             Put your serviette on your lap. 

You can do this as soon as you sit down. However if someone is taking you out to a meal (especially if it is for business), wait until your host puts his or her serviette on their lap. If you excuse yourself to use the restroom, place the serviette on the chair. When you finish your meal, you can place the serviette on the table. 

5.             Wait for everyone to be served before you start eating.

If you have to send something back, which is acceptable if the food is not cooked properly, make sure you tell the rest of your party to continue eating without you.

6.             Treat the wait staff with respect.

Make sure you still say please and thank you and give eye contact. We are dealing with humans not machines. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but if any of the food is not to your liking keep in mind that this is likely not the waiter’s fault.

7.    Everyone should order the same number of courses.

Agree with your companion or companions upon whether or not you want appetizers or desserts. That way, you will start and finish your meals at the same time.


8.    Decide ahead of time how you’re splitting the bill.

If you would like separately, ask the waiter ahead of time if this is possible so they can keep track of what each person orders throughout the meal. However, if you’re with a large group, don’t assume the restaurant will be able to accommodate this. If everyone’s meal was around the same price range, it's best to just split the bill evenly. Bring cash or make arrangements to pay the payer back.


All your questions answered:

Is it proper etiquette to leave a little food on your plate?

What do you mean by dining etiquette?

What is fine dining etiquette?

What is the correct way to hold a knife and fork?

What are table manners? Table manners are the rules used while feeding, which may also include the inappropriate use of utensils. Learn more with our Finishing Touch Certification or Young adult courses.