Etiquette – Do’s and Don’ts of Formal Dining

Etiquette-Do's-and-Dont's-of-Formal-Dining - Life-With-Lorelai

Etiquette – Do’s & Dont’s of Formal Dining

Impress Your Boss and Mother-in-Law!


The holidays are upon us, and that means dining and partying it up with all sorts of people you need or want to impress–the boss, the new girlfriend, the mother-in-law… Don’t be the butt of the holiday party jokes that last all year long; learn some simple etiquette. Take a look at what Phoebe from Liberty Tabletop has brought to us today.

I was thrilled when Phoebe contacted me regarding this awesome Infographic, which provides great tips for one of my dinner party pet peeves. YIKES! Which fork do I use? Has that thought crossed your mind? What about when you go to set your roll on your bread plate just to find that the person seated next to you has used your plate? This one little misstep creates a chain reaction that upsets the entire table. There is an easy solution


A brief introduction to formal dining

A formal dinner offers the opportunity to enjoy fine food and excellent company. It is often part of a sophisticated night of entertainment and socializing. You could be invited to attend a formal dinner as part of a company event, a dinner in aid of a charity, or at a high-end restaurant for a first date.

What to expect

A formal dinner is always catered by a chef. Guests are served their food at the table, rather than helping themselves from dishes left in front of them. Guests will be expected to dress appropriately, and follow the correct formal dining etiquette.

What to wear

Formal dining, and formal events in general, are sophisticated events with a strict dress code. Men must wear tuxedos, or a dress coat with a white tie in very rare circumstances. Women can choose an evening or long dress, as long as it is suitably elegant and refined. A formal event is a great chance to wear your best clothes.

How to behave

There are many protocols and routines that are followed at a formal dining event. These allow the meal to progress smoothly without any of the guests offending or embarrassing the others. Many of them are quite simple, such as remembering which cutlery to use, or to always pass the salt and pepper as a pair. Knowing and following these rules and preferences ensures you will be the perfect dinner guest.


This is a fantastic infographic! Thank you, Phoebe and Liberty Tabletop, for sharing it with us.

Here are a few more helpful Etiquette Tips

Now you know to start with the outside utensils first and work your way toward the plate and then to the top for dessert. But, the table is still loaded with other questions that need answering to make the best of impressions.

Which Bread Plate is Mine? And, what about the Glassware?

This simple trick will ensure you use your proper place setting. Give the situation a little “Thumbs-Up.” Your knuckles should be folded into your palms. Place your “thumbs-up” fists knuckles-to-knuckles. You can see that the left hand “thumbs-up” resembles the letter “b” for bread, while the right had “thumbs-up” resembles the letter “d” for drinks. A discrete and easy way to decipher that your bread plate is on the left with your “b thumbs-up,” and your glassware is on the right with your “d thumbs-up.”


Gentlemen should seat the lady to their right. Pull out the chair and allow her to sit down before taking your seat.

It is NOT Fashionable to be Late!

Arrive at the appointed time. You may be a few minutes early, but you may never be late.

Phone Calls at the Dinner Table

An absolute No-No! Turn off your cellphone. If you are expecting a very important phone call, make sure your phone is set to vibrate, and quietly inform the guests seated next to you. When you receive the call, excuse yourself from the table before answering the call.



My mother passed along to me her passion for crystal and fine china, and of course, if you have it, you may as well use it–so, let the entertaining begin! We may not go to the extreme of tuxedos and long dresses, but I do love to set a formal table for the holidays and special occasions, and good manners and proper etiquette are important in every aspect of your life.

If you have any tips or suggestions, please share them in the comments.

I hope you have found this information helpful. Now, go be impressive!


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One thought on “Etiquette – Do’s and Don’ts of Formal Dining”

  1. It really helped me when you said that women can choose an evening or long dress, as long as it is suitably elegant and refined. My mother was invited to a wedding anniversary, and it will be held at a fine dining restaurant. I’ll make sure to inform my mother the type of dress for the event.

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