Holiday Dinner Etiquette: Take the Quiz!

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Let me start off first by saying that I'm no expert when it comes to holiday dinner etiquette!  There have been times that I can't remember which water glass is mine, the right or the left, when I've been seated at a round formal table.  And where do I place my napkin when I'm finished eating?  So since the holidays are now upon us, I found an expert who graduated from The Emily Post Institutes's Train the Trainer Program to give me a few tips that we can use to brush up on our meal manners and to teach our kids.

Jill Bayer Ciporin is an etiquette expert and she worked with her mother to create cool place mats called lovelymanners place mats that include a dish placement guide along with tips on proper table manners.  Her place mats even won a design award when her product was awarded with this year's Yupo Wally Awards for Best Design. 

Each set of colorful place mats come with 24 different manners and are waterproof, reusable and are made of 100% tree-free paper, so this product is green, too.  To check out the designs and to order, visit her website at 

Now let's take the holiday dinner etiquette quiz and see how you do!

Place Setting Quiz

Question:  Does the knife and spoon go on the right or left  side of the plate?
   Answer:  On the right side.

Question:  Does the spoon go on the inside or outside of the knife?
   Answer:  The spoon goes on the outside of the knife.

Question:  Does your glassware go to the left or the right of your plate?
   Answer:  Your glassware goes to the right of your plate and your bread and salad plates are placed to the left of your plate.

Mealtime Manners

Question:  When serving yourself butter from the butter dish, do you spread it directly on your piece of bread?
    Answer:  No, when the butter  plate is passed to you, put a pat of butter on the side or your bread plate.  Break off only piece of bread, butter it on your plate and then eat your slice.  Don't take two pieces unless the bread bowl comes around again.

Question:  Should you cut your meat one bite at a time or slice up entire portion and then eat?
   Answer:  Cut only piece at a time.  Eat that piece and then another.

Question:  Do you pass platters and salt and pepper shakers to the right or left?
   Answer:  Always pass to the right.

Question:  What do you do if you must take something out of your mouth like a piece of bone?
   Answer:  Quietly put it on your fork and then on the side of your plate.

Question:  When you are finished with your meal, how do you arrange your used silverware?
   Answer:  Put your knife and fork on plate at 4:20 o'clock.

Question:  Where does your napkin go when you are finished?
   Answer:  Place your napkin, lightly folded to the left of your plate.

Hostess Etiquette

Question:  Do you serve white or red wine with Thanksgiving dinner?
   Answer:  This is really personal taste.  If you are having a large group, offer both as some people prefer red and some people prefer white with Turkey.  Typically, for poultry, you would serve a white wine - but Thanksgiving dishes are heavy, making red wine a good choice, too.

Question:  If your meal is formal, does the hostess take the first bite?  If buffet style, does the hostess go first or last in the line?
   Answer:  If the meal is a sit-down formal dinner, then the hostess should take the first bite.  If it is buffet style, then the hostess is the last to go through the food line.

Question:  How should a hostess set up seating for the children attending?
    Answer:  It really depends if you want to have adult conversation or if you want to include the kids. There is not a "correct" way, but if you do include kids, then expect to engage them in your table conversation.

Last but not least, I asked Jill about hostess gifts.  She said that a nice bottle of wine is acceptable as well as candles or candle holders, fun cocktail napkins, salad servers or serving pieces.  To see additional holiday etiquette tips, check out her website at  I think it is great to teach our kids proper etiquette as well as brush up on a few pointers ourselves.  And be sure to check out my website at for more holiday tips and recipe ideas.  Happy Holidays!