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Table Etiquette for Beginners

Good table manners can never be over-the-top. It’s about being considerate of people around you and generally having a nice time.

Table Etiquette for Beginners

Ever thought napkins are for aesthetics and not for actual use? Have you ever been confused about where to put the fork and knife? Let’s just say you’re not alone in this. All of us have gone through (still going through) this phase. Good table etiquette is essential for a fine dining experience

So, here we are to guide you on table etiquettes that you probably did not know among other fancy ones. Yup, we’ll stick to the basic simple manners that are good enough to shine at a fancy meet-up or a party. 

Always Check with the Host

Hosting is a creative process with responsibilities like cleaning, setting menus, seating, and games. So it’s only fair to play the nice guest to the ones hosting, right?

For starters, always be mindful of the space you’re in. Usually, parties at home might have some extra decor to keep the place welcoming. It could be a small vase on the table or a neat array of cutleries. Notice them beforehand, and be sure not to mishandle them. 

Then comes respecting the hosts’ efforts. Allow them to give you the green signal at every step. For example, don’t just barge in the food as soon as you reach the dining area. Make sure the host joins/ is around you, and then start with the meals. If you have any crisis, address it privately. This way, the vibe in the room remains undisturbed. 

If the meet-up is at a restaurant, make sure you still watch your host closely. Follow their activity. Not the creepy way! But as an observer. It helps you pace your meal time, understand the dining culture (if the place/ town is new to you), and not overshadow the host. 

Know what’s on the table 

If you’re fine dining for the first time, there is a chance that you are a bit clueless about what goes where. Or even the question – “what is this on the table?” may come up. Let us take you through a few basics that you ought to know.

Table Napkins

The first and foremost important item for any dining setting!

Folded napkins are present before the start of the meal. What do you do with them? Unfold the napkin very gently and place it on your lap. It must remain there till the end of the meal unless, of course, you want to use it for dabbing. Once the meal is done, the napkin is placed on the left of your plate in a half-folded style. This step conveys that your meal is complete. 

cotton table napkins
Cotton Table Napkins

Table runners

Table runners are a bit of a mystery for most people out there. Usually, they are present to accentuate decor pieces like candles, lamps, flower vases or just flowers. In other cases, runners are used to keeping the dishes in a neat alignment. Either way, table runners exist to bring attention and excitement to the items on the table. They also help prevent stains, cutlery scratches, and other imprints that make the table look clumsy. 

cotton table runners
Cotton Table Runners

Table mats

These are basically mats for your plates. No matter what part of the meal course you’re on, your eating activity will be within the space of the table mat. It helps maintain neatness with the cover-up of food spills, heat marks, and liquid spills. If you notice, forks, spoons and knives are arranged around the position of the table mat. It can also be considered as a boundary to maintain your table etiquette.

cotton table mats
Cotton Table Mats


These are probably the simplest table accessories for you to figure out. Once poured into glasses, hot and cold beverages on the table are set on top of such coasters to prevent table marks and scratches. Glasses are placed a little away from the table mat to have enough space for other dishes. So, all you got to remember is ‘wherever the glass goes, the coasters follow’. 

Handwoven cotton coasters
Handwoven Cotton Coasters

A complete meal 

Eating food the right way becomes extremely important when large gatherings are held. It basically avoids all possible chaotic interventions, maintaining decorum. Now, that’s something pleasant and considerate to do. 

Too much clink and clatter on the table? Try these simple hacks next time:

  • Hold the knife on the right and the fork on the left. It helps you consume your food without much hassle. 
  • Ask politely for the food at the other end to be passed and avoid interrupting in-between others’ meals. 
  • Do not hit ‘cheers’ aiming for a loud clanking sound. Sometimes, gestures are more than enough too. 

There! We have all the basics of table etiquette covered! You’re all set to experience some fine dining indulgence. Practice these easy etiquettes to avoid being conscious about where and what to do next during a fun meet-up. 

Happy dining!

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