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