Don’t call a napkin a serviette and ALWAYS leave a bit of soup on your spoon: Etiquette expert reveals how to have good table manners – and the three ‘golden rules’ of polite dining

  • Etiquette expert Anna Musson shared her golden rules of good table manners
  • She explained you should never call a napkin a serviette or lick a knife or spoon 
  • Anna said you should pause every four mouthfuls and put your cutlery down
  • She also said on no occasion should you leave a bag, keys or phone on the table 
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While you might think that good table manners are as simple as eating with your mouth closed and avoiding starting before the host, in fact there are a whole host of unwritten rules you can – and should – be aware of.

Etiquette expert Anna Musson revealed that your dining habits are social signifiers, and if you call a napkin a serviette and lick your knife or soup spoon it’s bad news.  

In a video clip for her etiquette channel, Anna explained exactly how you should eat – whether you’re in someone’s house or out at a restaurant. She also shared the three ‘golden rules’ of good dining.


Etiquette expert Anna Musson (pictured) revealed that your dining habits are social signifiers, and if you call a napkin a serviette and lick your knife or soup spoon it’s bad news

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Anna (pictured) said you should avoid leaving any ‘keys, bags or phones’ on the table when eating – ‘anything that could distract you from talking to the people you’re having dinner with’

For Anna, the first thing to think about if you’re sitting down at a table is that your bread should always be on the left and your drink on the right.

‘Once you’ve sat down, the next thing we do is take our napkin, which should never be called a serviette,’ she said.

‘Place it on your lap, and never down the front of your shirt.’

If you need to get up from the table to go to the bathroom, fold your napkin ‘loosely’ and place it on your left-hand side.

The etiquette expert said you should also avoid leaving any ‘keys, bags or phones’ on the table when you’re eating – ‘anything that could distract you from talking to the people you’re having dinner with’.


‘The correct way to hold cutlery is each handle fitting comfortably in your palm, and then your index finger should guide where your finger rests on the utensil,’ Anna (pictured) said

When it comes to cutlery, there are myriad mistakes it is possible to make.

‘The correct way to hold cutlery is each handle fitting comfortably in your palm, and then your index finger should guide where your finger rests on the utensil,’ Anna said.

She said you should keep your ‘elbows in nice and close to avoid looking like a chicken’, and then you should ‘stab the food with the fork and move the knife’.

‘We shouldn’t ever be tearing at our food, because not only does that make a terrible noise, but it also looks awful,’ Anna said.

When you’re eating, Anna recommended you take a pause every ‘three to four mouthfuls’ so you can engage with the person on your left or right.

‘At this time, you should cross your utensils over each other on your plate,’ she said.

She also said you shouldn’t put your knife down if you were given a knife and fork:

‘With the exception of pasta and Asian dishes, if you started with a knife and fork, you should finish with a knife and fork,’ she said. 

Anna also offered a tip on eating soup.

‘You should never lick the spoon,’ she said. 

‘Instead, you should tip the soup into your mouth from the spoon, so there’s always a little bit of soup left on the spoon.’


Anna also said you should avoid licking your knife or ‘using your fork like a shovel’ – and you also shouldn’t lick a soup spoon (stock image)

What are the three golden rules of dining? 

1. Your elbows should always be off the table if there is food on it. Otherwise, you can place your elbows on the table when talking.

2. Do not lick your knife or use your fork like a shovel.

3. Finish what’s in your mouth before talking. 

Lastly, the expert shared the ‘golden rules’ of dining. 

‘Your elbows should always be off the table if there is food on it. Otherwise, you can place your elbows on the table if there isn’t.’

Anna also said you should avoid licking your knife or ‘using your fork like a shovel’.

‘The most important is that you always finish what’s in your mouth before talking,’ she said.

It’s better to show someone you’re still eating than try to speak to them and show them what is inside your mouth.   

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