Many people, including corporate executives, have unbelievable table manners that put their companies, spouses and colleagues to shame. What we all need is some basic table manners that we ought to use at every other meal.
If you are someone’s guest, don’t sit until the host is seated (unless they told you to). In fact, when dealing with the host, never do anything (sit, eat, put your napkin on the table or leave) until the host has done the same. Remember he/she is the one paying the bill, so at least make them feel they are in charge.
When seated at the table you should figure out what is yours. If you are a host, remember that all items (food and drink) are presented to each diner from the right-hand side, and cleared from each diner left-wise.
Once seated at a dinner, use your eating utensils correctly. Develop the habit of taking a moment to observe which starting method will be used at an event to avoid awkward mistakes. Imagine you find yourself with a loaded fork pushed half way into your mouth as the host begins to bless the meal!
At smaller events, wait to take a bite until all at table have been served and the host has begun eating. At larger events, the host may urge the guests to eat immediately upon receiving the food, in which case wait until one or two of the other guests are ready to begin as well so that you are not the only one at the table eating.
Sit up straight with your arms held near your body. Neither lean on the back of your chair nor bend forward to place the elbows on the table. When eating, do not bring your face towards the plate but bring the utensil up to you. Don’t pick up a dirty fork and put it on the table—signal the server to replace it.
Passing stuff around
If some one asks for something like salt to be passed to them, only reach for it if you are closest to it. Take the item, place it on the table within reach of the person next to you, who will do the same until it reaches the person who asked for it.
They are neither passed hand-to-hand, neither should anyone apart from the original requester sprinkle it on their food while it’s in their presence. When the person is done you can then ask for the item to be passed back to you.