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Modern Table Manners: Etiquette for the Digital Age


Modern Table Manners: Etiquette for the Digital Age

Cristina Soriano

When Emily Post wrote her most famous book, Etiquette, in 1922, I don’t think she could have ever predicted the advancements of modern technology, and with that, a retrogression in dining etiquette. In the digital age where table-selfies are the norm, and takeout is the culinary equivalent of cooking, what would Mrs. Post have to say?!

Here are ten modern rules that I think, Mrs. Post would approve: 


Photo Courtesy of Leontine Linens

Photo Courtesy of Leontine Linens

Napkins belong on the lap and should remain there until: 

a.     You need to use the loo

b.     The meal is complete. Meaning the last piece of bittersweet chocolate eaten, the check paid and the after-dinner linger o-v-e-r! 

The Table

Table settings include dinnerware, cutlery, drink ware and table accessories. READ: no, your cellphone does not sit to the left of your steak knife!


Photo Courtesy of Apple

Photo Courtesy of Apple

Now that brings me to my next and most controversial point: CELLPHONES! Cellphones, for the purpose of talking, texting, tweeting or scrolling should remain in your purse (or back pocket) on silent. If you’re dining at a fabulous restaurant where plating is exception and inspiration, or if you’re amidst long lost relatives, the phone can make its grand appearance for the sole purpose of photography. Keep photo taking to a minimum, always without flash or noise. You never want to disturb other diners including those seated at your table! 


Place cards are to remain as is – even if you’re seated by your frenemy or fifth grade ex-boyfriend! The host thoughtfully considered each person and it would be disrespectful to go against their efforts. 


Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Meal times are bringing family and close friends together to enjoy storytelling and to revel in the company of others…. Even on a Monday evening with takeout! Don’t ruin the moment by watching the latest episode of your favorite TV show. Start conversations about current issues, exciting work projects or travel plans instead. 

Take Out and Delivery

We all don’t have time to make a delicious meal, and many of us can’t resist the convenience of delivery! The next time you place your online order, make sure to specify that the restaurant exclude plastic cutlery and extra paper napkins. When the doorbell rings, unpack your goodies onto proper dinnerware and eat using washable cutlery. It’s not only better for the environment as it reduces waste, but using your own dinnerware quickly makes the meal more sophisticated! 

Soup 101

When eating soup, use the spoon in a motion away from you. Don’t slurp or clank the spoon on the bowl. When finished, if you’re eating from a small deep soup bowl, rest the spoon on the soup plate. If on a large shallow soup dish, rest the spoon in the center of the bowl. 

Condiments and Additions

Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Photo Courtesy of Martha Stewart

Condiments, sauces and tapenades, when served in separate ramekins, should always be spooned first on your plate before spreading on bread or before dipping those sweet potato fries. 


Cheers! Clink (gingerly) each other’s glasses to salute to happiness, good health and everlasting friendship. Oh, and don’t forget to look at everyone in the eye…. You know what they say…


Dig in! If you're the first one served, hold off feasting away until everyone else has also been served. I know you're probably salivating and trying to cover up those tummy rumbles, but modern manners come first, right?

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