Image Credits: CW Network

We can all picture it now: sitting around the dinner table on Thanksgiving or Christmas, surrounded by family and good food, and then it happens. Your relative, sitting directly across from you, is hunched over their plate, chewing his food with his mouth wide open, and simultaneously attempting to tell you a story around the pile of food in his mouth. You, being the kind and respectful person you are, genuinely try to listen to the story without letting your annoyance show. However, being the classy lady you are, you cannot help but shoot subtle glares at this relative, astounded by his lack of manners. In order to avoid one of these situations, here is your ultimate guide to table etiquette for you to remember so as not to be “that relative” with the poor manners. And, if need be, you can pass this along to “that relative” in advance in order to make the holiday meals more bearable this year.

Chew with your mouth closed

This is one of the more universally-accepted rules of table etiquette. No one wants to see the food inside your mouth; no one wants to hear it either. “Chomping” or smacking one’s lips while eating is a grating noise. While some of your relatives may not care about the sound, there are always the ones who are genuinely annoyed by it. For those, it can be an such incredibly annoying distraction that it puts a damper on dinner and the time spent with family. Unless the screws to your jaw are loose, there is no reason that your mouth needs to be wide open as you eat. Please, for the sake of your relatives’ sanity, chew with your mouth shut.

Swallow first, speak second

Similarly, no one wants to listen to you attempt to maneuver your words around the food piled into your mouth. Wait until you have finished chewing and swallowing before beginning a sentence. Firstly, it keeps the food in your mouth. Secondly, people will be more likely to understand and listen to you if your words are not obstructed by food.

Posture is key

This may seem picky, but it is important. Good posture is a less known, but just as significant rule in etiquette. Not only is it a healthy practice for your back, but doing so makes you appear alert and connected with the conversation. Instead of hunching over your plate of food, keep your back straight and head up. It is polite, and it makes you look more engaged.

‘Please’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way

I cannot believe how many people neglect to say these words. It is common courtesy; ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ show that you are a respectful person. These words evidence that you know the world does not revolve around you. Letting someone serve you and not saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ makes you appear entitled to this person’s service. However unintentional it may be, that is the sense being projected. Make sure to show your gratitude for everything others do for you; using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is a good start.

Your napkin is your friend

We all know how distracting it can be when someone has food on their face. The person is trying to have a conversation, and all you can do is stare. This is something that particularly bothers me; I love food, but I do not want to see it on your face. If you have just taken an extra-large bite of food, use your napkin. Even if you do not think anything is there, do it anyway. You avoid looking foolish, and keeps guests from being distracted and disgusted.

RELATED: 10 Manners Every Lady Should Know And Practice

These tips will not only benefit you for holiday meals, but these are important life skills. Poor table manners can be a complete turn-off. In situations where you might be discussing a job opportunity over lunch, for example, your lack of table etiquette sends a much greater message than simply being sloppy. You look unrefined and unaware of general social graces. It evidences a lack of understanding about how your actions affect others and how others perceive you.

Remember to be courteous of those around you at the dinner table this holiday season, as well as during meals in general. Proper manners are an essential skill; put them into practice this year!

Liana I.
FFL Cabinet
Liana is a follower of Christ who loves her family, her country, and politics. She is typically found with her family or watching the news. Finding her off her soapbox is a rare sight.

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