Meal time manners

How important are good table manners? What does it mean to have them? The easy way out is not to bother thinking about it, after all, life is so busy and everyone is off in different directions! To sit with dinner on our laps In front of TV and not talk seems to be the best option. It is difficult to get everyone to slow down and have 1 meal a day together. It’s hard work for a bit establishing the habit. The lessons on manners take a long time to sink in. It’s about not giving up and being consistent in our expectations so as not to cause confusion.

You can tell a lot about a person by the way they eat. I believe we do our children a great disservice not preparing them for the future if they are not able to eat out with ease in a social or business setting. It also can be embarrassing watching someone with terrible table manners when you are with a group of people. How you behave socially can make a difference to your career and how far you go too. If you have good manners it gives you confidence to go anywhere and mix with people from all walks of life.

My father was always trimming us up with our table manners….

What our family learnt: (I recalled these things very easily so they obviously stuck)

We all had rosters of setting the table. Good habits when I look back.

Don’t wait for someone to ask you to pass something (salt and pepper) – you should be able to see they need it.

Please, please always say please! The same goes for thank you!

Eat with your mouth closed. And don’t talk with your mouth full.

Elbows in, and all uncooked joints off the table. (That means no elbows on the table)

Butter knives were always used and the butter put on the side of the butter plate not straight onto the bread!

There was a correct way to hold our knives and forks.


Always wait for the hostess/cook to be seated before you begin eating.

We always said grace before we had our dinner at night time. We still do as we are thankful for the food on our table.

When the last person finished eating their main meal we all had to help clear the table and take any guests plates, salt and peppers, etc. and then we had to help to pass the dessert out.

At the end of dessert we had to ask our parents “if we could please leave the table” or “Can I please be excused?”

Then it was put all your dishes in the dishwasher, and whoever was on the roster helped clearing up.

The meal times with dad were a little tense as my sister Wendy reminded me! So to be able to teach manners and still all be able to have stimulating conversations, well, that would strike a good balance!

Now our grandchildren are coming to visit we can  enjoy sitting around the table together. One of them gets to set the table for everyone coming for dinner! Part of the excitement is writing out name tags and choosing where we all sit. Once we have started eating we go around the table and all have turns to say…

“What was the best part of your day?”


“What was the worst part of your day?”

It is so good for communication and listening skills.

Sitting around the table is a great place to learn the “art of conversation”.

So the challenge is to turn off all i-pads, iPhones and the TV. While you eat your evening meal chat over your day and connect with one another while you can!

Jo Guy.