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What Not to Do at the Dining Table

Kimberly Law, AICI CIP


Although the term dining generally refers to the act of eating, we have come to utilize dining as a means to socialise and conduct business. Unfortunately when we're unsure how to skillfully navigate a meal, the dining experience can become an awkward experience. Here are a few basic tips to leave a good impression:

* Never Butter the Whole Slice... Rip off a bite-sized piece of bread or roll, butter it and eat it one piece at a time. Hold the bread on the plate while buttering it.

* Don't Pass to the Left... When passing any food, the person closest to the dish should take the dish and pass it to the next person. The dishes should always be passed counter-clockwise, to the right.

* The napkin never goes to the right of the place setting. The napkin should remain on your lap until the end of the meal or until you need to leave the table. When leaving the table with the intention of returning to finish the meal, place the napkin on your chair. Once the meal is finished the napkin is placed on the table to the left of the place setting.

* When dining, whether it's business or social, one of the most important things to remember is that nothing should be on the table that isn't part of the meal. This includes personal or business objects like: purses, briefcases, keys, cell phones, day-timers, hats, glasses and pens.

* Gristle and Bones… Don't Despair, If you find yourself in the unlucky situation with something inedible in your mouth, remove it discretely with either your utensil or with your fingers and put it on the side of your plate.

* Elbows, Elbows Off the Table… When dining, elbows and forearms stay off the table until the meal is completely finished and all dishes are removed. Need to take a break? Hands and wrists stay above the table when eating European style and on the lap when eating American style.

* Don't Pick up Dropped Utensils… unless it drops onto your hosts carpet. In a restaurant leave the utensil on the floor. The server will provide a clean one.

* Used Cutlery is never put back on the table… Once a piece of cutlery is picked up, it is considered used. Place it on the side of the plate with the handle resting on the rim. Although the nuances of dining etiquette may seem endless, with a little skill, the dining experience can be an enjoyable experience.

Kimberly Law, AICI CIP is a Certified Professional Image and Etiquette Consultant and principal of Personal Impact International founded in 1999. She is an author and a speaker, and works with companies, men and women helping them refine their look from head to toe and enhance professional communication, to help her clients look and act their very best, always! She is one of only 125 image consultants world-wide and was the first in Western Canada to receive international recognition as a 'Certified Image Professional' through the Association of Image Consultants International ( She was elected to serve as AICI's President Elect for the 2010 - 2011 term. And has been has been featured as a personal image expert across Canada through the media. For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Kimberly Law at tel: 604-298-7228, mobile: 604-626-3907, email: visit or see Kimberly's Media Kit.