Table Setting
Knife Protocol

What to Do

Q: What do I do when I sit down? A: Your napkin goes in your lap as soon as you take your seat.

Q: Is that my bread plate? A: Your bread is on the left and your drink is on the right. The easiest trick to help remember is to make a "b" for bread with your left hand (pointer finger and thumb together) and "d" for drink with your right.

Q: Which fork goes first? A: Don't fret! Silverware works from the outside in, starting with the salad fork and ending with the entree.

Q: When can I start eating? A: You may begin eating your food after everyone at the table has been served or after someone who is waiting on their food has insisted you begin. At a private meal, you begin after the host initiates.

You many not know...

It is polite to taste your food before seasoning it. The host is serving food that meets their standards for taste, so it is very rude to add salt and pepper before even tasting the food..

Remember to turn off your phone or switch it to silent before you sit down to eat. Never text at the table.

Do no cut all of your food at once, rather cut enough for about three bites at a time.

When someone asks you for the salt or pepper shaker, pass both.

Pass food around the table from the left to the right.

Food is served from the left and plates and dishes are cleared from the right.

Butter, spreads and dips should be transferred from the serving dish to your bread plate or dinner plate before use.

Do not turn a wine glass upside down to show that you do not want wine. It is polite to hold you hand over the wine glass to signal you do not want wine.

Resting your wrists on the edge of the table is premissable; however, elbows are not.

Pace yourself to finish the meal around the same time as those that you are dining with.

Do not take bites of bread; instead, tear off small bites and butter them individually.

When the host places his or her napkin on the table, they are signaling the end of the meal; you too should place your napkin neatly to the left of your dinner plate.


Unless it is a casual meal, it is generally suggested that you try to order foods that can be eaten with utensils. (French fries are technically supposed to be eaten with utensils.)

If you make a reservation, stick to it. Call ahead if you're going to be more than 15 minutes late.

The amount you tip does not reflect any discounts or coupons; it should reflect the total price of the meal prior to the discount.