The Complicated Dining Etiquette Rulebook CRACKED!

by Kamiya Jani
The Complicated Dining Etiquette Rulebook CRACKED!

Dine Perfectly

The festive season is a perfect time to celebrate dinners at home and being a host or guest to your close relatives, friends or colleagues. I have personally come across many sticky situations like, ‘Which fork or knife do I use first?‘ to ‘How do I place the cutlery once I am done eating?’. So here is a quick fix guide by Namita Jain, Wellness Expert on the do’s and don’ts of dining etiquette, shared at the Kishco launch event.

1. Setting Up The Table

Dinner plate (meal plate) – This is the “hub of the wheel”, and the first thing to be set on the table. Bread plate goes to the left of the dinner plate. Water glasses – or drinking glasses of any kind are placed at the top right of the dinner plate.

To Remember Placement, think of the acronym BMW – the rule of Bread, then Meal , and then Water.


2. Use of Cutlery

The forks are placed to the left of the plate; the Knives (with the cutting edge always facing inwards) and the spoons go to the right, the butter knife is placed on the bread plate.


Cutlery is always placed in order of usage, start with the cutlery placed at the outward extremities and work your way inwards with each course.

3. Placement of the Napkin/Serviette

The napkin is folded or put in a napkin ring and placed in the centre of the dinner plate or to the left of the forks.



Place the napkin on your lap with the folded side toward you (do not tuck your napkin in your shirt).

While excusing yourself from the table during a meal for a brief time, place the napkin on the seat and then push in the chair. At the end of the meal loosely fold it and put it on the left side of the plate.

Do not use your napkin to wipe sweat or blow your nose, you can use is to dab your mouth if required.


4. Bag & Baggage

Do not place your bag on the table (it is impolite). A big bag may be kept on a chair (if that’s possible) or under your chair or table (so that no one trips on it).

A clutch may be placed on your lap and your napkin should be placed on it. Also, special bag hooks are available which one can attach to your chair and hang your purse.


5. Etiquette Basics

Eat slowly. Chew with your mouth closed. Don’t make rude noises like burping or loud chewing sounds.

Always say ‘please’ when requesting for something. Say ‘thank you’ when you are served. Say ‘ No thank you’ if you don’t want a certain dish.

Say ‘may I please be excused’ if you need to leave the table.

When asked to pass salt or pepper, you must pass both together, even if only one has been requested.

Always pass a dish with your right hand and the same is to be received from your left hand.

While resting during the meal, place your cutlery in a crossed position as shown in the picture below:

At the end of the meal, the knife (the cutting edge facing inwards) and fork should be placed in the 11 o’clock position.

6. Courtesy Rules

It is a courtesy to be on time.(There’s nothing like being fashionably late)

Please switch off or silence your mobile, it’s a courtesy you owe your host and fellow diners.

While at a restaurant, never shout out to the waiter. Make eye contact. And in case your eyes don’t meet, raise your right hand with the index finger slightly raised.

7. Posture Perfect

Lean slightly forward while eating, your spine should be in a straight but relaxed position and not hunched over a meal. Your torso should be at a distance of two palms away from the table. Keep elbows (and other body parts!) off the table while eating.


Bring the food to your mouth, don’t take your mouth (or dive) to the food.

Avoid fidgeting – example, touching your face, combing your hair , grooming yourself.. while at the table.

8. Faux Pas To Avoid 

Soup is always eaten, never drunk or slurped! Soup must be eaten with a motion of skimming the spoon away from you and scooping it up using the rim of the bowl.

Avoid using toothpicks in front of guests. Ideally, you should go to the restroom to remove the food stuck in your teeth. But if you must use the toothpick in front of guests, use one hand to cover your mouth while doing so.

Confused about which glass or bread plate is yours? Remember the acronym BMW – the rule of Bread, then Meal, then Water as you sit. This helps to remember which plate and glass you must use.

Confused about which cutlery to use? Always use the cutlery farthest away from your plate and work your way inwards with each subsequent course.

Where should the guest of honour be seated? The guest of honour should always to seated to the host’s right. (The host sits at the head of the table, guests never sit at the head of the table).


Your style, your attention to detail, your body language communicates strongly with your guests. Keep it classy. Ciao. :)

Also read, Best Sundowners: Mumbai Edition
Top 6 Rooftop Bars of Bengaluru

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