Teach your kids good table manners

08 June 2014

Moms know how important it is for families to eat together. And having good table manners is a skill every child has to learn – especially if your family enjoys dining out. But what is really necessary and when are you being too strict? Karen Dudley, owner and cook at The Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town, explains the rules of etiquette you should teach your children.

Moms know how important it is for families to eat together. And having good table manners is a skill every child has to learn – especially if your family enjoys dining out. But what is really necessary and when are you being too strict? Karen Dudley, owner and cook at The Kitchen in Woodstock, Cape Town, explains the rules of etiquette you should teach your children.

At a friend’s house

  • Arrive on time
  • Take a gift for the host, even if it’s something small such as a chocolate.
  • Thank the host for inviting you.
  • Make small talk with the host or hostess – ask them questions and be interested in their answers.
  • Offer to help – even with the dishes!
  • Put your cellphone and other electronic devices in your bag. Don’t ever send an SMS or take a call at the table (unless it’s really an emergency). Don’t update your Facebook status during dinner.

At your house – setting the table

  • Start with the chair. It will give you an indication of where your guests will sit.
  • The sharp side of the knife should always face in (to the plate).
  • The handle of the dessert spoon should face to the right.
  • The wine glass and water glass should be placed to the right of the plate.

Table manners

  • Sit up straight and don’t let your arms or elbows rest on the table.
  • Take the serviette and place it on your lap. When you are done, fold it up and place it next to your plate.
  • Wait for all the guests to dish up before you tuck in.
  • First taste the food before you add salt or pepper.
  • Butter your bread on your plate, don’t do it in mid-air.
  • When passing the dishes, make sure they all move in the same direction, usually to your right.
  • If there is more than one course, start using the cutlery on the outside (furthest from your plate) and work your way in.
  • Ask the other guests if anyone would like the last portion before dishing it up for yourself.
  • Place your knife and fork together on your plate to indicate you have finished your meal.
  • If you need to use the bathroom during the meal, simply say: “Excuse me, I’ll be back shortly.”

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