Have you ever been invited to a business dinner, but aren’t sure about the proper etiquette? Need to brush up on your basics to impress your coworkers or clients?

With the holiday season approaching, there are plenty of business dinners and chances to impress (or disappoint) those you work with.

Here are some of the basics to help you avoid some potentially awkward situations.



Do arrive on time –No one likes to wait. Try to arrive at least 15 minutes early. This will set the tone for the rest of the evening – especially if you are trying to land a client or a business deal. It will also allow you enough time to look over the menu and find a table.

That being said, things happen. If you’re running late, be sure to give enough notice as to when you should be arriving or if you will need to reschedule.

Do place your napkin on your lap – This is proper etiquette and will definitely be noticed if forgotten. If leaving the table for a moment during your meal, loosely fold your napkin and place it on the left or right side of your plate.  Never leave your napkin on your chair. When you’re finished with your meal, leave the napkin semi-folded to the left of your plate.  Do not crumple or twist it.

Do use the proper utensils – Always start on the outside and work your way in towards your plate. Fine dining restaurants usually have more silverware on the table, so deciding which to use can often be confusing. Earn extra points for actually knowing the names – check out our “ What the Fork? ” post for some helpful hints!

If you are the host:

Do make recommendations – Guests are often unsure of what to order. Reassure them by making recommendations for higher priced items. Since hosts set the tone for the evening, guests will often wait for the host to start off appetizers, drinks and dessert.


Don’t start eating right away – Always wait for the host to signal you can start or everyone has their food.

Don’t talk with your mouth full – Same goes for no slurping, burping or blowing on your food. Take smaller bites and eat slowly.

Don’t put your elbows on the table – Keep them close to your side, especially when cutting meats.

Don’t reach over the table – If something is not within reach, ask politely for someone to pass it to you.  You should also avoid “intercepting a pass” – if someone has asked for the bread, don’t take a roll along the way.  Wait till they have helped themselves and then ask for the basket to be passed back to you. (Bonus tip: always pass the salt and pepper together, even if someone only requests one.)

Don’t gesture with your silverware – Prone to talk with your hands?  Resist the urge! Place your silverware on the side of your plate.

Don’t check your phone – Leave your phone out of sight or you can be signaling boredom. Be sure to brush up on some basic smartphone etiquette before dining out.

There’s only one chance to make a first impression – keep these tips in mind to make it a good one!

Can you think of any other faux pas we forgot to mention? What is your biggest pet peeve when dining out? Any tips you have found helpful?