The New Dining Etiquette

Origami 101
Place the napkin in your lap shortly after you sit down. If you excuse yourself during the meal, leave your napkin—folded or unfolded—on your chair and push your chair in. When you've finished your meal, fold your napkin and put it to the left of your plate, a signal to the waitstaff that your last dishes should be cleared.

Best of Bread
When buttering your bread, first cut a piece of butter off the slab and put it on your bread plate. Break—don't cut—bread and rolls, and then butter one bite at a time.

You're All Set
Think BMW—bread, meal, water—when you look down at your place setting. Your dinner roll will always be on the left, your meal in the middle, your beverage on the right. With elaborate place settings, work from the outside in. If you skip the first course, skip the first fork, and so on. Used silverware should never touch the table.

The Pits
Remove an olive pit from your mouth with your thumb and index finger, and place it on the side of your dish. All other foreign surprises should be removed the same way.

A Recipe for Disaster
If you're trying to impress someone, avoid tricky situations like French onion soup, lobster, and spaghetti. In a casual social situation, certain foods—asparagus, shrimp cocktail with the tail on, french fries, fried chicken, ribs—may be eaten with your fingers. If asparagus comes as a side dish, however, cut it with a knife. When eating ribs, get what you can off the bone, but stop short of gnawing.

The Sweet Spot
Keep empty sugar packets in a neat pile under the rim of your coffee or tea saucer. Ask for a receptacle for a used tea bag if you cannot dunk it into a pot. Never lift your pinkie when drinking from a teacup or anything else.

Always hold your wineglass by the stem. Do not order alcohol when interviewing for a job. During a normal business meal, however, you may order a cocktail if your host does. Never pick up a glass when you're being toasted.

And By All Means, Skip the Post-appetizer Brow-waxing
And By All Means, Skip the Post-appetizer Brow-waxing

"Invest in IBM" Is Not the Tip Your Waiter Is Hoping For
"Invest in IBM" Is Not the Tip Your Waiter Is Hoping For

  • Soup should be sipped from the side of the spoon.
  • Cut only one piece of food at a time.
  • Slice from the end of a piece of fish or meat, not from the middle.
  • Don't hunch over your dinner plate as if you're taking a high school algebra exam.
  • If a waiter is hovering when you're trying to have a private conversation, tell him, "Thank you for your attentiveness—we'll let you know if we need something."
  • Don't dive into your food until all of your dining partners are served. If they've been served and you haven't, advise them to begin so their meals won't get cold.
  • Unless you're with friends or family, don't ask for a doggie bag.