While waiting for my partner at an upscale Japanese fusion restaurant, an unmistakable Tiffany’s bag at a nearby table caught my eye. At the table sat a golden-haired mother, a very put-together woman with pink pearls round her neck, and her daughter. The teenager shifted uncomfortably in her seat, dropped her elbows onto the table, and sighed heavily before beginning to browse through Snapchat. After a few heartfelt attempts to connect, the mother brought out her own cell phone. Now, you could say that such etiquette is common among teenagers and between family members – it is – but this faux pas, among others, is one I’ve seen committed across the spectrum. I’ve seen it in Tokyo and San Francisco, between lovers and friends. I admit I’ve done so myself. While there are some things that cannot be helped, how we spend the little time we have with those dear to us – for either personal or business reasons – is something we do have control over. **Consider every “rule” on this list an opportunity to reconnect, relearn, and be present.**
Many of us have lowered our standards from “don’t be late” to “call if you’re going to be late,” but we should renew our tradition of being on time.
A bottle of wine or sparkling cider is a classic choice. For special occasions, plan ahead for more thoughtful gifts such as this custom floral arrangement.
While your friends are completely capable, if you planned the dinner you should take the lead when it comes to introductions. Don’t let your guests feel uncomfortable.
People see what goes on under the table, even when you’re being most discreet. I am always beyond mortified to see grown adults wiping their hands on their clothing or furniture during a meal.
Are you a magician? Then, stop waving your napkin around. Fold larger napkins halfway and leave smaller napkins unfolded on your lap.
Some of us take marriage more seriously than others.
Don’t punish them by being passive aggressive or deducting from the tip. Voice your preferences and needs as clearly as possible. A dining table is no place for a power trip.
You don’t have to be a sommelier. Watch YouTube videos or simply ask for the correct pronunciation.
Use your utensils to signal specific signals to the waitstaff. Notice how they’re left on the plate each time, not on the tablecloth or napkin.
Chefs are hardworking, creative people. If you are unhappy with something, respectable establishments will be happy to make the necessary accommodations.
Take the check, for example. If you’d like to pay, communicate this to the waiter in advance to avoid any pushing and shoving. In addition, there are some days when we are just “in a mood.” But as the saying goes, “Your mood should not dictate your manners.”
It’s easy to pull the foreigner card, but educating yourself on the proper etiquette is not that difficult. Even if you don’t have a guide at hand, observe those around you and use your best judgment.
I’ve been in quite a few situations where a dining party would remain seated and wave weakly to a parting guest. If you spend some time dining with someone, whether they strike your fancy or not, be courteous. Etiquette is more about considering others – human relationships – than it is about knowing which one’s the salad fork. Shake hands, stand until they are out of sight, or walk them out.