Advanced Table Manners

goopsWith Thanksgiving coming up, you might want to check out our post on basic table manners just to refresh your memory. If you are going to a REALLY fancy Thanksgiving, here are some more advanced table manners to keep in mind.

The Many Forks

First off, it is extremely rare that you will actually be faced with the terrifying array of silverware the novice believes to be the key to etiquette. We have eaten at some of the finest restaurants in the country and have always been provided with exactly the right utensils for each course. The most you will ever see at one time is two forks. However, in general, you will want to work your way from the outside towards the plate. So if you have a salad fork and a regular fork, the salad fork is on the left and you use it first.

American vs Continental Styles

Americans hold their fork in their right hand tines up. They also hold their knife in their right hand and switch the fork to the left tines down to cut things. Then the knife is put down on the plate while using the fork.

Europeans hold their fork in their left tines down and knife in the right and never put either down.

Both are correct. Interestingly, the American style is the older style that the original colonists brought with them from England, the Continental style developed later.

Finger Bowls

If a finger bowl is provided, you lightly dip your fingers in the bowl and then wipe them on your napkin or the cloth provided.

Napkin Rings

A soiled napkin is not returned to the napkin ring unless it is to be reused for another meal. In that case, the napkin ring serves as a marker of whose napkin belongs to whom.

Spooning Soup

Soup should actually be spooned away from you, and the bowl should be tipped away from you as well when getting the last bit. Presumably this is supposed to prevent you from splashing yourself.


You do not drink toasts to yourself, just smile and say thank you when it’s done.


Condiment jars should not be placed on the table, the condiment should be put in a little dish with a spoon.