Mind Your Manners

Don’t be caught at upcoming holiday parties using the wrong fork. Gump’s San Francisco wedding and gift registry manager Kathleen Mailliard Rende dishes out the eight secrets of successful etiquette.

1  Which fork is the salad fork when there’s more than two?   If you’re at a dinner party and the hostess is serving salad as her first course the outside fork is to be used; this should be the broad fork. Always start with the utensils from the outside in, as courses are served.

2  Where do you place the napkin?  It is always to be placed on the left- hand side of your plate but without the fork and knife on top of it; or to make your table attractive you can have fun with your napkin and place it in a ring or make a design with it and place it on your charger—just keep it away from your fork and knife. It is also never to be placed in the glass. I once was in charge of a fundraiser for about 1,000 people and when I went to the hotel before the event they had napkins in all the glasses. I went around to each glass and took out the napkin—that’s not happening when I’m in charge of a dinner party.

3  Where do you place your knife and fork in between bites?  Upside, together and both on the right- hand side of the plate, but if you’re married to an Italian like I am then it may be different—the Europeans use a different placement.

4 I know the bread plate is to the left of my plate.  What do I do when someone else uses it? You politely mention it to them. You might make a little joke but you definitely say something; you do not just continue to use the incorrect plate, yourself.

5  Is it still true that you wait for the hostess to lift her fork before you start eating? Yes. This is written in stone.

6  Do people still use finger bowls? No, regretfully they do not. Now if you’re going to have dinner with the Queen of England you will have a finger bowl guaranteed.

7  Can you explain what to do if someone asks to pass the salt?  The salt and pepper should always be passed together as a unit.

8  Is it ever okay to accept a phone call at the table?  Never. Cell phones are an interruption of a private evening. The proper and correct way is that you put your phone on vibrate, you excuse yourself and if it’s an emergency you go outside the room.

Image 2:  Kathleen Mailliard Rende of Gump's