Browsing Tag

table manners


Twenty Past Four Plates for Good Table Manners

twenty past four plates designed by willie tsang

Born and raised in Hong Kong, the graphic designer Willie Tsang now lives in Toronto. Willie likes to infuse a sense of play in his creations. I would add a touch of education too. He created 2 plate series and a teacup set for the 2008 collection of Imm Living. I am showing my favorites.

British Table Manners

Twenty Past Four illustrates the British eating habits. Let review the rules. According to the British table manners, you eat with the prongs of the fork pointing downward.

The plate illustration reminds you how to act at the end of the meal. You indicate to that you have finished eating a course by placing your knife and fork together at “twenty past four”. Put the fork with the tines facing up below the knife, with the blade facing the fork.

Tap for Tea


Tea-drinkers tapping the table with three fingers express discreetly their thanks to the member of the party who has refilled their cup. This habit comes from a Chinese tale. It is that tale that is behind the design of Tap for Tea. I am glad to have learned about the origin of this ritual.

You may wish to revisit my quick Guide to Table Manners.

Sadly, I have no idea about the prices and where you can get these items. If I learn more, I will let you know.

+ images from Umm Living


Happy President Day!


The most stylish first lady is still Jackie Kennedy. My husband told these pictures of me with the President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie when we visited Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas.

My advice if you planned to visit one of the world Madame Tussauds’ museum is to dress up nicely. This way, your pictures mingling with the waxed celebrities will look more realistic. We just came back from our helicopter trip to the Grand Canyon, so I did not. I regretted it.

Formal Entertaining Tips

Until April 3rd, 2008, you can take a close look at Jacqueline Kennedy’s distinctive and innovative approach to entertaining in the White House. It is an intrusion on the art of formal entertaining; an art that is getting lost unfortunately.

Jacqueline Kennedy Entertains: The Art of the White House Dinner is taking place at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

Jackie Kennedy wore this evening skirt and shell top in chartreuse silk faille embroidered with crystal beads and sequins in November 1961. This beaded silk gown was designed by Oleg Cassini.

Learn more: Madame Tussauds
Learn more: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum


Faux-Pas at the Communal Restaurant Table

my husband at the father\'s office

While we were at Father’s Office, the guy next to us put his half-full plate inside the plate of my husband because he did not like having his plate in front of him.

He did not ask if my husband has finished his plate, he just assumed. Frankly, he acted like a thoughtless guy who just thinks about his small person. Let’s make it clear. In no circumstances whatsoever can that behavior be acceptable. Even with your close friend or a relative, it is not tasteful to act that way.

What did I do?

I was astonished by his behavior; I never seen that before. I did not want to start an argument but I want to send him the message that it bothered me. So I pushed back the two plates on his side a few times until his girlfriend took the plates away from us. She put the plates against the barman’s bar this time. They did not even talk to us to say they were sorry and it was their mistake.

Reviewing the applicable table manners

Always remember that etiquette is based on the principle that your behavior should not disturb the well-being of others. Having said that, the etiquette rules when you are eating at a restaurant counter are:

  1. You do not invade someone else’s space. Depending on the design, you are usually allowed about 18-20 inches of counter space.
  2. Ask the waiter to take your plate away
  3. If you see that you seem to have offended someone or touched them inadvertently, say I’m sorry. It does not cost anytime and you acknowledged the other person’s concern. If you do not understand why the other person was upset, simply ask them politely what you did wrong? Do not forget that etiquette changes between regions and cultures.
  4. If you need something from someone, always ask permission first. Acknowledge that the other person has the right to refuse. So wait for the answer and make sure to say thanks before you act. If the person refuses, you should not look offended. Just answer that it is OK.

That is all for today’s lesson.


A Quick Guide to Table Manners

Tulipes Noires by Gien at Arthur Quentin

Stylish entertaining does not exist without practicing the rules of etiquette. Since we are in the main season for conferences, seminars and dinner events, it is appropriate to start by reviewing table manners. I wrote them for a conference sit-down lunch event but they apply to all occasions.

Before we start

Good manners transcend being polite; it is a way of living in society. Since there are a lot to say of the subject, this is the first of a series. The schedule will be announced when I determined the best format.

Let me state that etiquette is always a touchy subject due to cultural differences. If you follow my blog, you probably know that I am a French Canadian. I was raised in the French style of entertaining. I lived 5 years in Toronto, Ontario. I traveled enough in North America and Europe to integrate the best of both worlds in my way of living.

Having said that, I may pinch in comments about what I consider to be good manners. But for now, let just go over 5 basic table manners. There are so basic that these table manners even apply when you eating at home with the people living with you.

1 | How to use the napkin?

Napkins are a must at every table. After you sit down, you take the napkin, unfold it carefully and lay on your lap. If you need to get out of the table during the meal, you deposit your napkin on the table at your left. You casually and quickly fold your napkin before resting it on the table. You are folding it so it takes less space. It should never invade your neighbor area and not touch your dirty plate.

At the end of the meal, leave your napkin at your right side. It is not polite to put your napkin on your chair, at least in North America. Why the right side? My guess is to follow the service path. We serve food from the left side and we remove dishes from the right. So the right signifies that you finish your meal.

2 | When start eating?

The rule is when everyone has been served. You should apply the rule at every course. If the hosts sit at your table, you must wait until they start eating or they invite you to begin.

In business events, because we are often pressed on time, it is acceptable to start eating when at least 70% of the people have been served. If you wish to start eating before everyone is served you must ask the permission first to the persons that have not yet receive their food.

Personally, I feel that the 70% rule is proper only in extreme circumstances, like there is a delay and you do not wish your food to get cold. My advice is to use the 70% rule wisely, especially when you sit at a table with people that you do not know.

3 | How do you indicate to the waiting staff that you have finished your plate?

Whenever you eat at a public places and at home according to the British eating habits, there is no need to eat everything on your plate. When you have finished eating, you position the fork and knife parallel at 4 o’clock with the handles pointing to your right. 

If you need to momentarily deposit your knife and fork during the meal, rest them on the top rim of your plate, the blade facing you and the fork thumbs down. Never place back on the table cloth, utensils that you have started eating with.

In the course was dished with a plate underneath like a soup, deposit the utensil on the accompanying plate once you finished.

4 | What is the order for utensils?

It is really simple. Just remember that the order follows an outside in pattern. So you start with the utensils further from the plate.

Dessert utensils can be placed on top of your place setting. For a more elegant event, it is customary to bring the dessert utensils at the table just before serving the course. I will talk about place settings in another column.

5 | How to hold your glass?

What is important to remember about this rule is that you hold any beverage in such a way to not warm up any cool beverage. Therefore, you always hold a martini glass, a champagne glass and a white wine glass by the stem.

With the trend towards stemless glassware, the right way to hold the glass is to grab it at a level higher than the liquid. For that reason, when you are serving white wine in a stemless glass, it is best to leave out a gap of at least 1 inch and a half at the top.

It is not a faux pas to hold red wine by the bottom part of the glass. I just feel it is less elegant. But I know it feels more comfortable. So if you wish to evolve in the elite circles, you can practice always holding by the stem all the times. But do not feel bad if you prefer not doing it when you are drinking a red wine.

It is good to know that the white wine glasses are always smaller than the red wine glasses. It is like that so the wine stays cool longer. Water glasses are usually the biggest glass on the table. The white wine glass rests at your left, then the red wine glass and the water glass near the center.

That it is for my first etiquette lesson. Stay tuned for more in the following weeks.

My favorite fall pattern: Gien’s Tulipes Noires dinnerware

I like to thank Arthur Quentin where I took this picture last month. This casual table shows off the beautiful Tulipes Noires dinnerware collection by French maker Gien. This is my favorite pattern this fall. You would be surprised how stunning Tulipes Noires could look on a Christmas table.

Photo credit: Table done by Arthur Quentin featuring the Tulipes Noires dinnerware by Gien – price: $32 CAD for the dinner plate