How To: Have top-notch table manners

Have top-notch table manners

Impress dinner companions with your flawless manners—it's as simple as observing a few key rules.

You Will Need

* A crash course in dining etiquette

Step 1. Know the basics

As soon as you take your seat at the table, place your napkin in your lap and obey the basic rules: Sit up straight, keep your elbows off the table, don't begin eating until everyone has been served, chew with your mouth closed, and silence your cell phone.

Step 2. Act "well-bread"

Your bread plate is to your left. Place a chunk of butter on your plate—enough so that you don't have to keep dipping into the communal butter dish. Break off one bite-sized piece of bread at a time, buttering it just before eating it.

Step 3. Know what's yours

Take the water glass to the right of your plate. (Remember, the "DR" in "drink" stands for "drink right.") As courses arrive, use the utensil farthest from your plate first, and then work your way in.

Step 4. Sip your soup

Eat soup by skimming your spoon along the surface of the broth, away from you. Then, bring it to your lips and sip it, without slurping, from the side. Should you find it excruciatingly hot, don't blow on it; simply wait for it to cool off. When you're done, rest the spoon on your plate. If the soup bowl came with a saucer, lay your spoon on it.

Step 5. Enjoy your salad days

Cut your salad if the leaves are too big. Just don't hack up the entire salad at once.

Step 6. Don't hold the salt hostage

If someone asks for the salt or pepper, hand it over immediately—even if you need to season your own food.

Step 7. Spit happens

Remove something from your mouth the same way it came in.

Step 8. Send the right signals

When you're finished eating, lay your utensils parallel, the tops pointing at 11 o'clock. If you're merely pausing, cross your knife and fork on your plate like an "X" with the knife on the right.

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