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The Guide to Table Manners for Kids

· French Etiquette
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How to properly handle a fork and a knife?

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What is the polite way to eat spaghetti?

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Can I help myself when I want more of these meatballs?

These and other important questions are answered in this handy guide to eating without offending or grossing people out.

These are not rules just for fancy parties or dinners, they are basic information your children can use every day to improve their social life!

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Table Setting

The way the table is set – utensils, plates, glassware, and napkins – indicates you in about which cutlery to use for each course. It gives you clues as to what food you can expect to be served and when. When you sit down you may see one, two, or three forks to the left of your plate. You will use them from the outside in, so if the smaller salad fork is on the outside, you know you will be served salad before the main course.

Some tables are set for just one course at a simple family meal. Some settings are more formal, sometimes for up to a five-course meal. Either way, here are the main information you should remember when setting up the table, or what to expect when you visit a restaurant.

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Plate. The « hub » of the setting, itis often the first thing to be set on the table.

Fork. It is always placed to the left of the plate.

Knife. It is set next to the plate, on the right, with the cutting edge facing toward the plate.

Spoon. The spoon goes to the right of the knife. It may be used for soup as well as for spaghetti.

Glasses. One water glass is the minimum and will be set on top of the plate. Wine glasses may be added next to it.

Dessert spoon. It will be set horizontally above the plate, under the glasses.

Bread plate. On formal occasions, it will be on your left, just above your forks, generally accompanied by a butter knife.

Napkin. It could be placed inside the plate on informal occasions or left of the forks on formal occasions.

Body gesture

People only see what you show to them. They judge you on the way you behave, sit, eat and talk. If you show the best out of yourself with proper manners and etiquette, at the end of the day, you will be remembered as such. Here are the fundamental rules when it comes to body gesture at the table.

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Back. It should always be straight. This habit might be painful at first to get and will be achieved more easily if you sit well at the bottom of the chair. Don’t bow down to your plate, your hands take the food to your mouth.

Hands. Your hands will remain above the table at all times. When eating with a fork in your right hand, with your left hand free of utensil, lay it above the table.

Elbows. They remain off the table and close to your chest in order to avoid bothering your table’s neighbors.

Napkin. At the beginning of the meal, as soon as you sit at the table, unfold the napkin and place it on your laps.

Using cutlery

Basic cutlery is made of a fork, a knife and possibly a spoon. The more formal the meal gets, the more cutlery may be placed on the table. Remember these basic rules.

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Eating meat. This will require a fork and a knife. If you are right-handed, you will hold your fork with your left hand, as if you were pointing at something. You will hold your knife with your right hand, the same way. In Europe, once you cut a piece of meat, you will bring it to your mouth directly. In the US, the formal etiquette says you shall lay down your knife, take the fork in your right hand and bring the piece of meat to your mouth.

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Eating salad. This only requires a fork, which you will hold in your right hand as if you were holding a pencil. You will not use your knife, as it is impolite to cut the salad as well as using a knife to assist the food onto your fork. Instead, you may use a piece of bread.

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Once your dish is finished, indicate it to the host or the waiter by placing your fork and knife next to each other in your plate, in a parallel position, at 4 o’clock. If you are not finished yet, lay your fork and knife inside your plate, in an open position.

Table manners

Showing poor behavior at the table will always have a very negative impact on what people think of you and will hurt your reputation. Good manners are the first step towards social success!

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… start eating before your host and before the rest of the guests are served.

… be noisy while eating your noodles or drinking your soup, avoid any chewing noises.

… speak with your mouth full of food, swallow it before answering a question.

… try to reach something which is too far away from you, instead, ask for it.

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… use both hands to break your bread into pieces.

… offer water to your neighbors and remain aware if they need something.

… wait for the host to offer you second rounds of food, or kindly ask for it.

… offer your help to the host to clean the table before you leave the room.

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