Holiday dining etiquette tips to improve your social and business engagement skills

Elegant holiday setting

St John Collection at Nordstrom hosted Rosemarie Burns of ‘Etiquette and Protocol by Burns‘ to provide a special seminar to some of the Bay Area’s well heeled citizens. The topic covered was setting your Holiday Table and how to diffuse some unmannered guests social faux pauxs.

We have all at some point or another encountered a few rude situations or forgotten which fork to use. Here are few quick tips to get you back on track.

Have you encountered the guest who uses their cell phone during a dinner engagement? One of the solutions provided by ‘Etiquette and Protocol” is simply to be silent and look in the direction of the offensive guest until the behavior has ceased. If you must have your phone available in case of emergency, switch your ringer to vibrate and explain ahead of time to your guest that you are experiencing a family crisis ( or whatever the event may be). Further mentioning that you  must be available to engage in conversation. When the call comes in, remove yourself from the table and go quietly to handle your private matter.

If your etiquette skills are a bit rusty a good rule to follow during a business meal is to use the flatware at the farthest edge first for each course and work your way in toward the plate. Another quick tip to avoid any social and business blunder is your bread portion is always on the left and your drink is always on the right. Ever notice that by placing your index finger and thumb together form the letter “b” ? Put it in your memory as “B” for bread is on the left hand. Same quick tip goes for making a letter “d” for drink on the right hand using your index finger and thumb, thus drinks are always on the right. Remembering the placement of those two items will help avoid confusion of what belongs to whom.

My last and most important tip for women is not to put your purse on the table during your meal. Often times your bag has been placed on the floor and tracks a fair amount of germs that would them be transferred to the place where you will consume your food. Place it on the chair close by or if it is small enough on your lap beneath the table. It is also acceptable if you must to place it on the floor on the left. Yes, correct on the floor on the left, since the server will place your meal from the right and could feasibly trip over your purse if it were placed on the right and cause undue harm to yourself and companion. So please remember your purse is placed on the left.

Should you need to brush up on your skills there are several books out on the market to help you improve your social business engagement skills. The newest I have seen is by Kate Spade and is available in 3 different volumes. Rosamrie Burns will also have a volume available at the first of the new year of 2012. If you require the service of a skilled professional to help you with social and business etiquette for traveling abroad you will be well served with Rosemarie Burns. Please contact her at (925) 736-2880

St John Holiday Brunch Seminar



  1. These are great tips ! I always take a small purse with me and place it on my lap.

  2. You have the most impressive online websites.

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