Aunt Dandelion is an advice blog offered to help readers solve simple or perplexing problems related to social and business etiquette. Ask Aunt Dandelion when you have a problem, and check back soon for answers. Send your conundrums to Or follow Aunt Dandelion on Facebook!

Tips for correct use of cutlery

Hi Aunt Dandelion!

Earlier you had a survey about which side does the fork belong on. I thought I’d let folks know there’s an easy way to deal with all that silverware at formal dinner parties. Work your way in. Always start with the utensil on the outside. That one across the top, that’s for dessert! — Liz L.
Aunt Dandelion replies:

Thank you, Liz - great advice!

Ladies and gentlemen, the knife, fork and spoon you find at your place at every meal are tools with specific uses, and a modicum of etiquette is involved in the proper implementation thereof. Here are some do’s and don’ts that will save you from getting egg on your face.

  • Know what each utensil is for. In general start using the outermost utensil of your place setting and work your way inward towards the plate with each course. Thus, your shrimp fork or soup spoon is on the far right; your salad or starter fork on the far left; followed by the main course utensils, closer to the plate. Your dessert spoon and fork are generally set above the plate, and butter knife on the bread plate to your left.
  • Place utensils quietly on the plate between bites as needed. When still busy eating, fork and knife should be placed on the plate at “8:20″ (imagine a clock), the fork with tines down.
  • When done eating, signal this to your hostess or waiter by placing knife and fork together in the 5:00 o’clock or 6:00 o’clock position (fork tines up) on your plate.
  • Never place a used utensil anywhere but on your plate. Aunt Dandelion has been deeply shocked to see guests placing knives greasy with food on a clean tablecloth. Who is going to get those stains out? To put any dirty utensil on the table or tablecloth or placemat is unsanitary and thoughtless.
  • Never jab a butter knife into the top of the butter and leave it there, making the butter look like a crime victim. Keep your butter knife on your bread plate. If you were not supplied with a butter knife, use the butter serving knife to place a pat on your bread plate, and replace the knife on the butter dish, to the side of the butter. Then proceed to break your bread into small pieces and, using your dinner knife, butter one piece lightly. Replace your knife on the plate before eating the bread. Repeat this with each bite of bread. (Yes, it’s necessary, and looks very dainty in practice.)
  • Do not save your utensils between courses. A proper restaurant or host will supply clean cutlery for each course. If a restaurant fails to do this, ask them to bring you fresh utensils.

Also see: How to Serve Yourself Condiments

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment here, or ask Aunt Dandelion your etiquette question: