Rules for table manners

26 May, 2018

When they eat out at a posh restaurant or an important event, many people are unaware of the rules of conduct that need to be followed during a meal so as not to bother the other guests.

During the course of your social life, there are many occasions when you have to share a table with people who don’t know the protocol for a meal and make things awkward.

Below you’ll learn some of the essential guidelines for behaving at any type of wedding or event. Follow these simple rules of conduct and everyone will praise your good manners.

What is the protocol during a meal?

When you have guests at home, you are the guest yourself or you are going to eat with your social or family circle at your favourite restaurant, you have to stick a series of rules of behaviour to make sure the evening turns out as pleasant as possible. Let’s take a look at the 10 most important points:

1. Wait for the rest of the guests to start eating

Even if you’re served first, you shouldn’t start eating until the rest of the people have a full plate or the host tells you that you can start.

Once you’re all eating, it’s essential to eat at a similar speed to the other diners. Don’t eat hurriedly or too slowly.

2. Cut up each piece of food when its time comes

I.e. only cut up the piece that you’re about to eat. When you put the food on your fork or spoon, it’s there to be eaten and not to be left there while you talk or listen.

3. Don’t eat or drink if your mouth is full

You should chew your food and then take a drink. Don’t take overly long swigs. You should take short sips that don’t give the impression that you’re thirsty.

Of course you should never talk with your mouth full or make any kind of noise when chewing or drinking.

4. Napkin

The napkin should be placed on your lap unless it is being used. Although they’re there for wiping your mouth clean, you should try to stain them as little as possible.

If you need to get up from the table for a moment, put the napkin down to the left of your plate or on top of your chair.

5. Posture

You should adopt a posture that is upright but not stiff. The food should be brought to your mouth, and not your mouth to the food, and your elbows should not rest on the table, only your forearms.

Don’t extend your arms across in front of other guests to reach for an item of food. The ideal thing is to ask politely to be served and then, if necessary, pass them on to another guest.

6. Leaving the cutlery

Your fingers should only touch the handle of the cutlery, and when you finish eating, they should be placed on the plate. In the case of the fork, it should be left with the tines down.

7. Don’t get up before it’s time

You shouldn’t get up from the table until everyone has finished eating. In case of emergency, excuse yourself and apologise. Don’t leave the table without saying anything.

8. Have the phone on mute

The mobile phone should be on mute throughout the whole meal, since it is not advisable to use it during the course of the evening.

You shouldn’t get up to take a call.

9. Attitude at the table

You shouldn’t talk with your mouth full or gesture with cutlery in your hand.

You should avoid scratching or making any unorthodox gesture. In the case of ladies, avoid touching up your makeup at the table.

10. Keep exaggerations to a minimum

You shouldn’t exaggerate too much when discussing dishes or wines. Moderation in both criticism and praise should prevail during the evening. In this way you’ll avoid compromising the hosts.


When you don’t want any more drink or food, you shouldn’t put your hand over the glass or the plate to stop them serving you anymore. You should tell the waiter verbally and politely that you don’t want any more. When you finish eating, don’t push the plate away from you.

When you address another diner, do so using a moderate tone. Don’t raise your voice to talk to a guest at the other end of the table. In this case, you should wait for a later opportunity to talk to them. The ideal is to talk with the guests close to you.

With all these basic Rules of Conduct you’re ready to face any kind of event that may arise in your social life. Have you ever found yourself at an event where a guest makes you feel uncomfortable because they don’t know this protocol for eating at a restaurant? Tell us about it!

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