Good basic table manners are important because they ensure that both guests and hosts are comfortable at the table. Table manners are mostly common sense. Following these will carry you through most common situations from Formal Dinners to a night of poker with the guys.
Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than absolutely essential!
Do not sit until everyone is ready to be seated.
Do not put your elbows on the table or sit too far back or lounge.
Do not talk loud or boisterously.
Be cheerful in conduct and conversation.
If possible, never cough or sneeze at the table.
Do not speak with your mouth full.
Chew quietly and try not to slurp.
Taking small bites will help you with the two previous rules!
Never indicate that you notice anything unpleasant in the food.
Do not break your bread into the soup or mix with gravy. It is bad taste to mix food on the plate.
Keep fork in the left hand and knife in the right hand.
Never leave the table before the rest of the family or guests without asking the host or hostess to excuse you.
Eat soup with the side of the spoon, without noise.
If a dish is presented to you, serve yourself first and then pass it on to your right.
Never overload the plate when serving others.
Never make a great display when removing hair, insects or other disagreeable things from your food. Place them quietly under the edge of your plate.
Break your bread rather than cut it.
If you prefer, take up asparagus with the fingers. Olives and artichokes are also so eaten.
If a course is set before you that you do not wish, do not touch it.
When passing salt, pass the pepper as well.
Use a napkin only for your mouth. Never use it for your nose, face or forehead.
Eat at a leisurely pace.
Don’t reach for things but rather ask that they be passed to you.
Compliment the cook!