Family Etiquette Dinner

Plan a nice, sit-down dinner for your family and make sure everyone participates in the preparation; include rolls, salad, appetizers, a main course, and dessert. Set the table with nice plates, glasses, and silverware if you have them (food dishes are set to the left of a setting; glasses to the right), and instruct your children in common eating etiquette. Some things may seem basic, but remember: your kids probably don't know them! Some habits include:

  • Unfold (don't shake) your napkin when you sit down, and use it for wiping your mouth and fingers (licking is only acceptable when you are eating meat off the bone, as in ribs).
  • Work from the outside in with your silverware; the shorter forks are for salads and appetizers, the longer for the main dish. Utensils shouldn't touch the table after use.
  • Place butter and a roll on your individual plate. Break off bite-sized pieces of the roll and butter them individually; don't butter the whole roll at one time.
  • Ask for things to be passed to you if you can't reach; stretching over the table is considered bad etiquette.
  • If you get a bad bite of something (such as gristle from meat or an undetected garlic clove), put the napkin to your mouth and discreetly spit it into the napkin. Don't forget it's there!
  • Leaving some food leftover is acceptable, but you shouldn't make your plate look like you licked it clean!
  • If you have to leave during the meal, place your napkin on your chair to signify you will be returning. When finished with the meal, place the napkin folded on the place setting; put your knife and fork together and set to about 4 o'clock on your plate.

You might think some of these traditions are silly, but at the very least your etiquette night will be a fun, cultural experience your family can enjoy together. Your children can also thank you in the future when they know how to behave in circumstances where etiquette is expected!

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