12 Table Manners Every Adult Should Know (And Use!)

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Dining etiquette is not just reserved for the high society. No matter where you come from or where you’re dining, good table manners are a universal sign of respect and consideration for others. 

Whether at a fancy restaurant, a friend’s house, or even in your own dining room, here are 12 essential table manners that every adult should know and use.

1. Put Your Phone Away

Put the phone away during meals
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In today’s digital age, it’s all too common to see people glued to their phones during meals. Show respect for your dining companions by putting your phone away or setting it to silent mode. Engage in meaningful conversation and be present in the moment.

2. Keep Your Elbows off the Table

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An old but timeless rule is that keeping your elbows off the table is a sign of good manners. Rest your wrists on the edge of the table if needed, but avoid slouching or sprawling with your elbows on the table.

3. Eat After Everyone Is Served

mom serving food
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Wait until everyone at the table is served before you start eating. This simple act of patience shows consideration for others and ensures that everyone can enjoy their meal together.

4. Pass Food Around Clockwise

Pass Food Around Counterclockwise
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When sharing dishes family-style, pass them to the person on your left in a clockwise direction. This orderly approach ensures that everyone has a fair chance to partake in the meal without causing chaos at the table.

5. Pass Salt and Pepper Together

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If someone requests salt or pepper, always pass both together, even if they only asked for one. They must always be passed as a set because they are a unit.

6. Don’t Chew With Your Mouth Open

Do not chew food with your mouth open
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Chewing with your mouth open is not only impolite but also unappetizing to those around you. Close your mouth while chewing to avoid making a spectacle of yourself.

7. Cut Small Bites of Food One at a Time

Cut Small Bites of Food One at a Time
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Avoid the temptation to cut your entire meal into bite-sized pieces all at once. Instead, cut small bites of food one at a time and savor each mouthful. It demonstrates your mindfulness at the table.

8. Spoon Soup Away From You

spoon soup away from you
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When enjoying soup, always scoop it away from you. This not only prevents any accidental spills toward you but also follows a traditional dining etiquette rule.

9. Be Cautious With “Explosive” Foods

juicy fruits or pasta with sauce
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Foods that are prone to splatter or drip, like juicy fruits or pasta with sauce, require extra care. Take smaller bites or use utensils to prevent accidental spills on yourself or others.

10. Be Polite

Be polite while eating
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Politeness goes a long way at the dining table. Say “please” and “thank you” when requesting or receiving items. Use polite language and engage in pleasant conversation, taking into consideration who your dinner companions are.

11. Consider Splitting the Bill

Consider Splitting the Bill
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Consider the group’s preferences for splitting the bill when dining with friends. Be open to different arrangements and contribute your fair share. If you’re the host, clarify your intentions beforehand.

12. Tip Generously

Tip Generously
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When dining out, always leave a gratuity that reflects the level of service provided. Generous tipping not only shows appreciation for the hard work of restaurant staff but also reflects positively on your own character.

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