Hanging out at the Table

Hanging Out…at the Table

Hanging out, eating, dining, they are all the same when it comes to sharing food with people.  It is an experience and it can always be a memorable one.  I’m sure you can remember that Thankgiving, Christmas, Birthday, Mothers Day celebration when you shared food with family and friends.  It’s an experience; once upon a time people use to do it daily.  With weekly Sunday dinner’s, everyone would be there.

It still happens in many homes, but more so on occasions and with friends.  So we are going to talk about just some basic formalites that are important.   Just in case you are invited over to someone’s house for dinner or you would like to prepare a meal for a friend.


Before meeting someone or going to someone’s home, it is always helpful to know the following:

Dress entire

Do you need to bring a thoughtful gift

a flower, soap



R.S.V.P.  means respond to an invitation so the person inviting you knows how many people will be going to their part


  1. Wait for the hostess to seat you.  Wait for your friend to tell you where you should sit before making yourself at home.  If it is a formal seating, enter on your left side or whatever way the waiter is directing you.  This is always a good time to put your phone on vibrate.
  2. If you keep answering or looking at your phone while having dinner with someone or people, what kind of message are you giving them?  Let people know ahead of time that you are expecting a phone call, so they will be understanding regarding your table manners.
  3. When you read to eat unfold your napkin and put it on your lap, even if is a paper towel
  1. The waiter or whose house you are at will usually ask you, “Would like to drink”?  It is so important to get to know Y.O.U.  I like to drink an l/2 an hour to an hour before my meal because I don’t want to get full up on juice (sugar) soda (sugar) because I like deserts.  Sometimes, it is better to forfeit a drink before dinner.   Some of you have a great appetite and can enjoy the food.  I love lemon in my water, so if the lemon comes on the side always squeeze the lemon in your drink.  Use your left hand to cover the right hand while squeezing the lemon, so it doesn’t spray on someone.
  2. Eat lightly and avoid messy food when you have a choice to order; because you are there for the experience and will be doing more talking than eating.   You don’t want to be wearing your food and you want to enjoy all the food that they have prepared for you.  It is always acceptable to substitute mineral water for water.

6)If salad is served first, there should be a salad fork on your left side or it will be the smaller fork.

You can start eating once everyone has been served and wait for the hostess to say it is O.K. to start.  NEVER be the first to start unless everyone else has began.  I know some culture’s wait for the ladies to start eating first, but you always look to the elders to ask permission first.

  1. When your not eating put your hands to your side, on your lap. (no elbows on the table)
  2. ALWAYS taste the food before seasoning.  Remember it is an experience.  You know that saying you can judge someone by the way they look, same with food.
  3. Never chew with you mouth open and make noises while your eating.
  4. Do not slurp soup from the spoon.  If it is hot wait till it cools.
  5. Speak when you finished chewing your food.
  6. If you have food that gets caught in your teeth.  NEVER use a toothpick at the dinner table or put your finger in your mouth.  If you tongue does work getting it out, excuse yourself from the table
  7. If you are sharing common food dishes NEVER use your own utensils to get food from a common dish.  It’s called “double dipping”  Sometimes you may have experienced this with salsa and chips.  You bite then dip after you bite samething.
  8.   If there is something you cannot eat simply say “No thank you” or “No thank you, I don’t care for any”.  Face scringing is unnecessary gesture and unacceptable.
  9. Taking the last piece of food from a plate for a platter is rude.  If you must, ask first “ Does someone care for this last piece of ____________?”  This way you can always share the last piece.
  10. Try not to leave the table unless, it is very important or leave between courses and make sure you say PARDON ME…..
  11. If you need salt pepper, ketchup.  NEVER reach for it, politily ask someone to pass it to you.
  12. If your silverware falls on the floor, pick it up and let the waiter or hostess know that you need a clean one.
  13. When calling for someone please say “Pardon Me” Miss/Sir.  NEVER say “hey you or snap your fingers.
  14. Pace yourself when eating and enjoy the experience and try not to eat fast.
  15. When finished, place your fork and knife on your plate, on a right angle, so the waiter or hostess will know that you are finished with your meal.  Then you can get ready for desert
  16. If you are at someone’s house you can offer to collect the plates to the kitchen.







Hands-on Activities


Place a set of dishes on the table and they have to set up the table.  If they get it

correct the first time they get a prize.


Prize suggestions.  wine glass, a placemat, tea cup, napkin ring


Age appropriate, if they are 16 and over you can have different types of bottles filled

with juice or water labeled as red wine, etc., as below and different types of glasses.

This is a great activity for them to learn the different types of glasses while dining.

  1. red wine
  2. white wine
  3. champayne
  4. alcohol


They would pour the type of drink that you call out.