Are you preparing to make a grand entrance at your next holiday party? This appears to be an easy task once you’ve already found the perfect dress, your hair is styled in a way that brings out your best facial features, and you have a great date by your side to share your moments with.
You can just visualize it now: as you walk into the room, everyone can’t help but stare with sparkling white smiles as they shower you with the most uplifting compliments.
Now it’s time to eat. Proceed with caution; how you navigate through the dining experience can either enhance or diminish your social appeal.
Here are three dining etiquette tips that you should remember before going to your next holiday party — whether it’s a business party or not:
First Things First: Don’t Forget the Napkin
It may be tempting to reach for the first edible item on your table, especially if you’ve saved your appetite after thinking of the scrumptious meal that you would soon devour. Don’t move too fast. It could trigger all eyes to turn in your direction–and not for good reasons.
Start by unfolding your napkin and placing it on your lap. This should be done within the first minute of sitting at your table to dine. If you plan to leave your seat for a few minutes, place your napkin neatly on the lap of your seat until you return. Place your napkin on the table beside your plate when it’s time to leave.
Maintain Your Reputation at the Table by Avoiding Inappropriate Dining Actions
You may want to keep your eye on your belongings, but the dining table is not the best place for you to pursue your inspection demands. Your purse, keys, and cherry berry lip balm should be kept off the table. Think of the table as a union of minds brought together by great food; anything else on the table distracts from that united atmosphere you are seeking to create.
And if you are an entrepreneur who has never left the comfort of your computer screen to partake in a social dining celebration or your food experiences are limited to lunch with your best friends, don’t make the simple mistake of diving into your meal before everyone else is served, too. That freshly roasted chicken may smell good to you, as it may also smell to the others at the table, but that doesn’t mean that you immediately eat it. Most will consider you rude if you start picking at your food while others are staring at their empty fine China plate in front of them. Be patient. Observe the table and make sure everyone is served before starting your meal.
Don’t Take Your Neighbors’ Silverware
You arrive at the table and you see more silverware than you’ve ever seen at one table. If you start to randomly grab silverware and glasses around you, you may frustrate one of your neighbors. Even worse, the entire table is now dysfunctional because your dining error has caused everyone at the table to try to figure out which drink belongs to which person. This is something that you definitely want to avoid!
Here are some basic instructions: eat to your left and drink to your right. Any food dish to the left is yours to grab and any glass to the right is yours to drink; that means the bread on your left is yours and the water on your right is yours. If you are wondering which silverware to choose for each dish, always remember to use the silverware farthest from your plate first. If you remember the rule to work from the outside in, you’ve passed your dining test.