Our Lady of Weight Loss

Our Lady of Weight Loss

How Ill-Mannered Are You?

After I did a bit of research on etiquette, I was shocked to learn that my family is made up of a bunch of ill-mannered heathens. And, if I were to be perfectly honest, I’d have to say that I’m in violation myself and therefore, not a candidate of the Emily Post Manner Award.
How does your family measure up?
The Rules of Etiquette
One should …
* arrive at least 10 minutes early unless otherwise specified. (Whatever happened to fashionably late?)
* pass food from the left to right. (So if someone is on my left, should I pass it around the table?)
* pass both the salt and pepper together, even if only asked for one of them.
* place food item directly in front of the person asking for it, rather than handing it to them (hand-to-hand). (No tossing the roll across the table and saying ‘head’s up’)
* never even think to grab a roll out of the breadbasket as it’s being passed to someone else. (Are you kidding? I’d never get a piece. It’s every man for himself here.)
* serve food from the left; remove from the right.
* put the butter or spread on your plate before you spread it on your food. In other words, do not take butter and directly spread it on the bread.
* scoop the food away from you. (I do that with soup, but I didn’t know you’re supposed to do that with all food!)
* taste your food before seasoning it.
* never blow on your food to cool it. If it’s hot, you just wait for it to cool.
* keep elbows off the table. Keep your left hand in your lap unless you are using it.
* not talk with your mouth full. Chew with your mouth closed.
* cut only enough food for the next mouthful. Eat in small bites and slowly.
* not blow your nose at the dinner table. Excuse yourself to visit the restroom. (What if I have a cold? I might spend the evening in the restroom.)
* wash hands before returning to the dining room.
* cover your mouth if you cough with your napkin to stop the spread of germs and muffle the noise.
* not use a toothpick or apply makeup at the table. (Even we’re not so uncouth as to apply make up at the dinner table, especially the boys.)
* stand when a woman leaves the table or returns to sit (For the men). (As if!)
Emily Post ” . . . . manner is personality—the outward manifestation of one’s innate character and attitude toward life.”
How ill-mannered are you? Leave comment below and/or write me!
Wanting more table talk? Pick up your copy of Our Lady of Weight Loss: MIraculous and Motivational Musings from the Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal

  • Nancy

    There are a few that are just standard practice (passing food from left to right, an important system in a large family; passing salt and pepper together) but I didn’t know it was proper etiquette! I can picture my grandmother smiling, smugly…

  • Bev Adkins

    Wow, we might as well eat in the barn and be done with it. I work in a restaurant and I promise not many people follow these rules. We are trained to pass out the food to the “right” and so forth! Wow!

  • Bonnie

    they say leave your left hand in your lap. What if you eat with your left hand? And passing gas at the dinner table just means that the food was good. I take it as a token of appreciation. I guess I have bad manners at the age of 23. Sorry to offend anyone


    I have been a waitress for 42 years and we have to serve from the right side for at least two reasons, one being that the person will move to be served from the right and the main reason is because if you work in a restaurant where you have to carry the plates with your hands and not a tray or cart… we carry the food in the left hand and therefore have to serve with the right hand and it would be almost impossible to serve on the left side.

  • thea

    i don’t always concider other peoplesfeeling. i tend to be too demanding. my anger is over the top .due to my currant problem, prople are worried about me. i fight change

  • delane

    I don’t get why there should be so many rules- some I agree with some I don’t. If I wanted both salt and pepper I would ask for them both. do you have to do it one at a time or can you use both hands, (left on in your lap right>

  • Anonymous

    I am an etiquette fan and often consult my Miss Manners book for sticky situations. I feel that using etiquette is a way of showing respect for others and yourself. (Of course, if etiquette is used to put down other folks, that is a misuse of manners.) I did find you list to be a good refresher course. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, I had a typo in my orignal comment. It should read:
    I am an etiquette fan and often consult my Miss Manners book for sticky situations. I feel that using etiquette is a way of showing respect for others and yourself. (Of course, if etiquette is used to put down other folks, that is a misuse of manners.) I did find your list to be a good refresher course. Thank you.

  • Karen

    I found your list very informative. Some of them I practice and didn’t even know they were “rules. I must say those rules are not always practiced at my dinner table (I am glad to know that we are not the only family that throws dinner rolls)but I do expect my children to know them. That way when they are out to a nice restaurant or at someone’s house they don’t embarrass themselves or disrespect their host. Thanks!

  • Ruth Cleaver

    When my daughter got married, her soon to be Mother-in-law had invitations made up that read Mr. and Mrs.
    John Doe request the honor of your presence at the wedding of their son Thomas Doe and and Miss Nancy Smith etc.
    In the first place, John Doe had died several years before and in my opinion should not have been placed on the invitation. A dead person can’t request your presence anywhere. Was I wrong?

  • April J

    I don’t see the problem. Good table manners make for a good conversation and places one in a different category. However, there is one manner I did noe see listed is: Men, remove you hats or caps from your head at ALL tables. If your hair is unkept under there, take a haircomb and go into the restroom to groom yourself and come back.

  • Potsie!

    Thanks for the tips on manners, I am often criticised for being too mannerly!mmmmmmmmmm
    My son-in-law often spits in the Kitchen sink, he had a cold. How is that for manners, I think just plain nasty! what do you think?

  • Marilyn

    How nice to see we are talking about manners again. I thought they had gone out of style!!!!

  • Dave

    Thank you for writing this. I’m a single dad and it took an old girlfriend to remind the kids and I of good manners. I have tried to continue her good suggestions.
    I agree with the folks here: Good manners are a sign of respect. I am saying, thank you for inviting me to your home.
    It’s sad that you don’t see that respect from people, not only at the dinner table, but in other social settings. It seems as if people are either unaware of manners or don’t care.
    I need to stop remembering this, but what bothered me more than bad table manners was never being invited to a family dinner from the family of someone I dated for more than two years. I just wanted to be friends. My family had invited their daughter to two weddings and she stayed with our family at least three times. I never got a similar invite from her family.

  • Texas

    I love youe comments and will definitely print them out for my children to read when they get home from school today. Especially, my boys ages 12 and 14. One thing that I’ve taught my children lately that I didn’t see mentioned is that when they are at someone’s home, out to dinner or at a party and there is one last item of food NOT to take it. At least, ask first does someone want that, then if not they are allowed to eat the last cookie or whatever it is. Another words I think it is very rude to just grab or take the last food item that’s in the basket or bowl. My boys think I’m a little over the top, but I tell them that some girl will notice there manner sometime.

  • Connie

    My aunt wears hat on ALL occasions. She has all colors and styles. But isn’t it unethical to wear your hat/cap while eating? Shouldn’t she remove it espercially if it is a baseball cap (made glamorous by sequins or so?)while at the dinner table?
    How can I tell her (if it is unethical) without hurting her feelings?

  • A.Rogers

    I would’ve never taken the time to comment normally, after some of these columns, however this was so sickening to my stomach I had to say something. This is a most inconsiderate, selfish, and unhealthy thing to do, even in your own place of abode. Just think of the many viruses you expose others to at the risk of serving your own lazy habits! We need to really take a real good look at ourselves. This makes me check my time in the bathroom while brushing my teeth. I do use the basin for that, and keep the basin free of the residue from my sputum not leaving it for someone else to clean up. That itself seems like an exposition of my own privacy. Sort’ve like accidently leaving my underwear in the bathroom after taking a shower.
    I think your son-In-Law (or was it your Brother-In-Law?) needs to be reminded not to do that at your house. I may be wrong, but why would we complain about something we allow to continue,especially if it’s offensive?

  • Deb, the Mom

    Manners is something that I have thought a lot about lately. I started/ran an Intergenerational Center, and I felt that teaching manners was a gift we gave the children, and showed respect to the Elders we served as well. Now, I have a father and his two daughters that live with our family. The father is from another country. I explain to them that good manners are a way of helping. They are a way of being a leader (or a princess in the case of two little girls). My father, who grew up now knowing them, made sure our family knew them so that I could be comfortable anywhere.
    Now, at our house, the three year old and almost five year old are looked at as being gracious and almost brillant because of their excellent manners, and kind words to others.
    One of the worst things we do, in my opinion, when we are teaching manners to children is shout at them, WHAT IS THE MAGIC WORD! There is no magic word, there is a way of being in the world that says you are aware there is OTHER, and that this OTHER, whether they are Royalty or Homeless, is significant.
    I believe the ONLY way to teach manners is to MODEL manners. I have found that for me, saying what I want them to say, and than only responding to those types of requests, (with maybe a silent cue— we “signed” a little “m” for “May I please”) is my idea of an effective intervention. We taught them phrases like, “may I please have”, “no thanks, but thanks for asking.” But we have also talked about WHY those are important and how they make us all feel. Those geniune, real, encounters are the best rules of manners and from it, all other rules follow and make sense.
    We definately break rules at times, but with a sense of why, the idea it is harming to no one, because critical thinking is a skill that is MORE important than manners, but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
    Maybe our lack of manners is not so much about just etiqutte, but also a lack of awareness and empathy about those around us. I will say it again. Manners, and how we impart them to our children, and by that I mean we MODEL them, by treating them with good manners, is a GIFT we give our children. This gift comes at a high price, for me, sometimes with GREAT exhaustion, and sometimes I become self-righteous about it with my poor exhausted husband, but I do believe it is a gift.
    As far as telling others how they are failing….sorry, you don’t get to do it. Good manners are not used to control others, they are used to control oneself. When you start reading the rules to others, you have missed the point. The idea is to make others comfortable, no matter how poor their manners are….This telling others what to do is the HALLMARK of poor manners. If something is a safety hazard, or a health hazard, those with both good manners and good boundries find ways to set boundries with good manners that make others think they thought it themself.
    It is truly the art of manners, it is about the OTHER…..
    I think we might be LONG overdue for a discussion about manners.

  • alyson


  • Nancy

    The reason you pass both the salt and pepper shakers when someone is only asking for one is so that they “stay together” should someone else later request one or the other. Easier to locate both at a glance then having to look all over the table for two separated items.
    Salt and Pepper are considered as one when passing them to others.
    Texas is correct on teaching the children to not just grab the last item from a bowl or basket but to first ask if someone wants it.
    Not only is it polite BUT it is another way to inform the host/hostess or and waiter/waitress if near by when asking) that them item might need to be refilled.
    Nancy aka sixlittlekitties

  • Nancy Modarelli

    I think that myself, my husband and my daughter have very good table, out in public and all around great etiquette. No we are not perfect, only one person I believe in is, mostly we all have good common sense. It is so funny that the Emily Post website was on my comuter today. I was just talking about asking Emily Post a question on some subject the other day, but of course, whatever it was has left the building (my brain). I think I will look over the website and maybe it will come back to me. Thank You for listening. I have a handbook of Emily Post guidelines that I always refer to.

  • Joann

    My husband has an “allergy” or reaction to using a CPAP machine and sneezes and has a runny nose that requires frequent blowing of his nose. He is in the process of being treated for his rhinitis, but so far medications and changes in eqipment care have not been effective). We eat out frequently (out of necessity) and his nose problem is one for which I have not been able to find a suggestable solution. What does one do under these circumstances in order to not be constantly taking care of his nose while trying to eat a meal?

  • Ed

    Thanks, Mom & Dad:
    You did a great job in teaching me well.

  • William Musanje

    Ive learnt a great deal of table etiquet,I will definately teach
    my children and grandchildren.

  • afra

    …”keep your hand in your lap unless you use it” I know this is good manners in the US, terrible though in all over Europe where you keep both hands up ( not your elbows ). Sometimes it would be good if we considered adding what good manners are elsewhere in order to prevent negative judgment from our part. It is good manners too

  • Mary

    I was raised to follow rules of etiquette. My parents would say that just because we didn’t have a lot of money didn’t mean we couldn’t have proper manners. I am not prudish. I don’t expect perfection, just politeness. I know that people from other cultures differ from our etiquette. My Mother’s father was from Belgium and my Daddy’s Father was from Ireland. So we were taught a lot about the “old country”. When my ex- took me to meet his family, I was shocked at their horrid table manners. They were quite wealthy, but their manners were non-existent. I have done my best to raise my children, not quite as strictly as I was, but still to know what the proper manners are, my sons do stand when a lady enters or exits the room or dining table. My daughters go to the ladies room to touch up makeup. I know that this is a different time as many young people say, but it is nice to have a few things, like manners, that continue to be a constant. Now we just have to get a nice cell phone etiquette.

  • aileene

    May I ask? Do you by any chance you can send the manners list translated in spanish for someone I know, because the person I tell it too, doesn’t believe what I’m saying which the person is a male. I’m having a little bit of trouble with this person, because they showed him manners and is so difficult for this person to believe his faults.
    By the way I like mines in English all the time and also I’m proud of you for putting that list on screen.

  • Karolina

    Since the French were the first ones to write a book about how we should act and eat, I have to trust them.
    “Keep your left hand in your lap unless you are using it” This is unacceptable behavior in Europe, Australia and I assume a lot of other places. Ones I was with my American friend at a dinner party and a person next to him said “can you please put your hand on the table, you look like your touching yourself” and I must agree. It looks really bad and a lot of people are bothered by it.

  • Judy Colella

    Educating ourselves in what are considered the “norms” of international etiquette would probably be a good idea; that way, when we find ourselves in the company of those raised with these other societal habits, we can adjust our own behavior to avoid causing offence. After all, making others comfortable is at the heart of true etiquette.
    Judy C.

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