Thursday, March 20, 2014

Etiquette: Dining Out

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Today is the first day of spring and as we all come out of hibernation mode, I'm expecting a lot more dates and dinners out. If it has been a while since you were wined and dined, brush up on some tips for ladylike behavior:
  • Arrive with a smile. Greet the host or hostess, and be gracious when they tell you there's a wait and offer to put your name on a list. Restaurants get busy, so there's no need to make a fuss (or even a grimace) when they tell you they can't seat you for an hour. It's up to you to decide if the wait is worth it. 
  • Take a seat. At the table, place your purse at your feet. If you're carrying a small clutch, it's also appropriate to place it in your lap, but no bag should be hung on the back of a chair or placed directly on the table. Similarly, remind your date to keep his wallet, keys, and phone in his coat pockets, not next to his plate.
  • Use your napkin. Once you've been seated, place your napkin on your lap with the crease facing you. If you get up to leave throughout the course of your meal, fold your napkin and place it to the left of your place setting. 
  • Remember your manners. Often people forget basic manners when it comes to waitstaff. Be polite, look them in the eye when you order, and use "please" and "thank you." These basic manners that your parents taught you still apply!
  • Go slow. Take normal sized bites, chew your food, and go slow. There's no need to inhale everything on your plate, even if it is incredibly delicious. When you're not stuffing your face, you'll have more opportunity to make conversation (nobody likes it when their date talks with their mouth full!). 
  • Turn down the volume. Pay attention to the volume of your voice. You don't need to overpower the conversations happening at other tables near you. Likewise, if you're in a quiet restaurant, it might be appropriate to turn the volume down on your cell phone ringer and tuck it away. 
  • No phone calls. You've turned down the volume on your phone and tucked it away, so keep it there! Unless you receive an extremely urgent text or call, please enjoy the pleasure of your date's company and go tech-free during dinner.

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