TWELVE TABLE MANNERS
1. COME READY. Come to the table with hair combed neatly, hands and face washed with soap and water and dried on a towel. Quietly enter the room and sit down.
2. BEGIN A MEAL. Quietly wait for father or mother (or the host or hostess) to lead in a prayer of thanks for the meal. If it is not the custom, quickly bow your head and silently say a prayer of thanksgiving and ask God to bless your food. Mark 8:6 "Jesus took the seven loaves and gave thanks. . ." Wait until everyone is served and the host or hostess takes their first bite before you begin to eat. If another course is served, such as dessert, again wait to eat until the host or hostess takes their first bite.
3. THE NAPKIN. After prayer, place your napkin in your lap. Do not wave it around. Wipe your lips only with the napkin to remove any food from your face. After the meal, place the napkin on the table neatly at the left of your plate, not on plate or chair.
4. UTENSILS. Learn to hold and use eating utensils properly. At a formal meal with several utensils, follow your host's lead to use the correct one. For example, use the fork on the far left first. After a meal, place utensils on the top, right-hand side of your plate.
5. PASSING FOOD. Pass dishes of food to your left. If someone asks you to pass something, pass it before serving yourself. To request a dish of food say the person's name closest to the dish, e.g. "John, please pass the peas." Remember to say “Please” and “Thank you.”
6. HOW TO SIT. Keep arms and elbows off the table. Do not reach in front of someone or bump them. Sit close to the table so your food does not fall on your lap. Sit tall with nice posture. Do not slump.
7. CONVERSATION. Learn to take your part in making a pleasant and interesting conversation. Listen. Do not interrupt or talk too much, or be too personal or silent.
8. HOW TO EAT. Take small bites and chew with mouth closed. Do not talk with your mouth full. Do not lick your fingers. Eat at a medium pace, not too fast or too slow. Chew and swallow quietly without any slurping or gulping sounds. Use knife as a helper, not ,fingers.
9. SECONDS. Take a modest second portion if there is plenty of food. Do not take the last of a dish. It is impolite to take a third helping. Do not take seconds on dessert.
10. BE POLITE. Do not read, hum or sing while eating, make rude jokes, or be offensive.
11. AFTER MEAL. Children must always ask permission to leave the table, e.g."May I please be excused?"
12. COMPLEMENT THE COOK. Be sure to complement the cook. Husbands and children should thank mother for every meal she cooks. And always thank your host when receiving hospitality.
Re-printed with permission from "Jenny's Twenty Lists" Copyright © 2001
Sequim, Washington, USA