The Furniture Hire Guide To Impeccable Table Manners

The Furniture Hire Guide To Impeccable Table Manners

Here at Furniture Hire UK, we deliver a wide array of tables up and down the country on a daily basis. Some tables will be used for formal events such as weddings and awards ceremonies whilst others may be used in more permanent settings such as restaurants and offices. Our banqueting tables are some of our most popular hire items, and this got us thinking about the tradition of table manners, and how things may have evolved over the years. So, if you are seated comfortably, chair pulled in and of course have your elbows off of the table, we will share our findings with you.

Napkin Etiquette - Yes, That’s A Thing

If you are sitting at an informal meal, you can simply unfold the napkin and place it on your lap immediately upon sitting down. If it is more of a formal affair, wait for the hostess to place her napkin on her lap. If you really want to look like you know what you are doing, shake or “snap” the napkin open, obviously taking care not to whip your table neighbour in the face. That would be an icebreaker for sure, but possibly not the best way to start a conversation! However tempted you may be, never tuck your napkin into your collar. At the end of the meal, simply place the napkin neatly folded to the left of your plate.

How To Sit

When sitting down at the table, ensure your seat is a comfortable distance away. Also, ensure your neighbour has enough space - you should have enough room to put your elbows out slightly on either side. Speaking of elbows, did your mother or father ever tell you not to put your elbows on the table? This rule was thought to originate from when tables were made from tree stumps with planks of wood laid on top. Any weight placed on either end of the table (elbows being the main culprit) would unbalance the table sending food and drinks toppling.

Passing And Serving

Before you start helping yourself to items such as salt and pepper, water and butter, try to make sure that others around your table also have a chance to help themselves - don’t go hogging the water jug or commandeering the salt and pepper pots to your side of the table. If something is out of your reach, ask a neighbour to pass it to you rather than reaching across. Years ago, it was bad manners to ask somebody to pass the salt - we imagine many people went without properly seasoned meals back then!

Starting Your Meal

It is generally bad manners to start eating before everybody has been served, so remember to look around and take your lead from other diners. An exception to this rule is if your host or hostess insists you start so that the food doesn’t get cold.

Eating And Conversation

It’s fine to carry on eating while holding a conversation, but considered rude to speak with your mouth full. Try not to eat throughout another person’s conversation, as this can also be considered rude. Nodding, listening and making the right noises whilst also eating is absolutely fine, and a great social skill to master.

Spitting Things Out

So, you’ve just encountered something particularly nasty like an unexpected piece of gristle or something you really don’t like, and you need to get it out of your mouth and fast! If you really can’t swallow it, then place your hand over your mouth and quickly and discreetly place the offending item at the side of your plate.


Chewing noisily or with your mouth open are both major no-nos at a formal and informal gatherings. The best table manners are those that draw no attention to themselves, and learning to chew your food in a considerate and controlled manner is the civilised way to go. What’s more, you might also appreciate your food more.

Making Everybody Comfortable

Whilst everybody at your event is focusing on enjoying themselves and using impeccable table manners, it is your responsibility as the host to ensure they are comfortable. Our banqueting furniture is the perfect solution, and we have items to suit every occasion, whether it’s a formal awards ceremony or an informal wedding reception. Take a look at our range today to find out more.