Proper dining etiquette has a place whether you're enjoying a meal at a five-star restaurant, a fast-food joint or at home.
While there are some written rules about social etiquette, there also are unwritten rules rooted in courtesy. By following these guidelines, any dining experience can go smoothly.
Put down the phone
When dining out or attending a party, direct your attention to fellow guests or dining partners and not your devices. Turn off the ringer, resist the urge to check the sports score, wait to text a friend until you're done, and devote your attention to the meal.
Let the host lead
The host or hostess is responsible for setting the tone of the meal and ensuring everyone is comfortable. Take a backseat to your host and let him or her guide the meal.
Patience is a virtue
Restaurant wait times are not an exact science. Restaurant hostesses can offer an estimate, but it's impossible to say exactly when you'll be seated. Do not take frustrations out on the staff. If time is of the essence, dine during off-peak hours or visit a less busy establishment.
Go sparingly on substitutions
Restaurants should be willing to cater to certain requests, especially if food allergies are a concern. However, do not act like the establishment is your personal kitchen. Make reasonable requests.
Make and keep reservations, which help keep the flow of the dinner party going smoothly. Arrive at a home on time, as party hosts likely have timed their foods accordingly and you don't want to delay or spoil the taste and presentation of the food.
Keep children in check
Dining out with children presents an opportunity to teach them manners. To avoid meltdowns, be sure children are well-rested and have had a snack before arriving. Avoid scenes that disturb other diners; take the child outside to calm down if he or she acts up. Call ahead to make sure a restaurant is child-friendly. For a dinner party at a private residence, the invite usually will indicate if children are invited and is usually addressed as "and family."
Following dining etiquette rules can make meals more enjoyable for everyone.