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A table setting of fine china and crystal with beige linens

Myka Meier: Dinner Table Etiquette Essentials That You Should Know

You are having dinner at someone’s home, and you’ve been served something you’d rather not eat. What is the best way to handle the situation?

First off, if you accept a dinner invitation at someone’s home and you have any dietary restrictions or allergies, it’s up to you to tell your host in plenty of time ahead of the meal that you have dietary restrictions. It is not recommended however to tell your host your likes or dislikes. That being said, if you arrive to someone’s home and are served something you do not like, it can be very hurtful to tell your host you don’t like something they prepared. I would recommend eating everything else that you can, and cut a piece or two of the food you don’t so it looks like you at least tried it.  If your host asks if you didn’t like their meal, I would simply say I had a large meal prior, however that everything they served was so lovely.

If you’ve invited a guest to dinner at your house and they bring a bottle of wine as a gift, do you serve it or put it away?

You have no pressure to serve any host gift a guest brings, including wine. If you are hosting, you likely planned the menu and paired it with wine already, so what your guest brings may clash with the meal you prepared. If you would like however to serve their wine, feel free to open it and do so.

Should you dismiss yourself from the table if you need to sneeze or blow your nose?

If you need to sneeze, simply turn away from the table and cover your mouth and nose to sneeze. If you need to properly blow your nose, I would recommend going to the restroom, as it may be very unappetizing to those around the table. Anything that would be considered “grooming”, from applying chapstick to combing or putting up your hair should be done in the bathroom and not in public.

Another common mistake we see at the dinner table is picking food out of teeth. If you can’t easily loosen food or something stuck in your teeth with your tongue (hidden behind your napkin while you try), then it’s best to excuse yourself and get it out in the bathroom. It is proper etiquette however to tell someone at the table if they have something on their mouth or in their teeth, just do it in a nonchalant way so that you don’t hurt their feelings.

Myka Meier is an Etiquette Specialist and founder of Beaumont Etiquette. Click here to learn more about her and polish up your etiquette.