Many of the etiquette rules pertaining to dining that Emily Post wrote about in her book, Etiquette, in 1922, don’t hold up in today’s world. However, some traditional etiquette rules still apply and there are new ones that were created for modern times.
Take the quiz below and see if you can distinguish between etiquette rules that were changed and those that weren’t and if you know what the new rules are.
The Etiquette of Dining Quiz
1. Is it still considered rude to place elbows on the dining table?
a. Yes, elbows on the dining table are never allowed.
b. Yes, it is rude, but only when there’s food at your place setting.
c. No, it’s not considered rude if you’re having a conversation with someone during the
meal and want to lean in to show interest.
d. No, it is no longer considered rude to place elbows on the table during a meal.
2. Is it considered rude to have your phone out on the dining table?
a. Yes, it is considered rude. During a meal, your phone should be silenced and should
remain in a pocket or purse.
b. Yes, it is considered rude unless other people at the table have their phones out too.
c. No, it is not considered rude as long as it remains silenced and untouched.
d. No, it’s no longer considered rude. Dining is a social experience and phones are a way
to share messages, photos, etc. with others.
3. Should you wait to start eating until everyone at the table has been served?
a. Yes. Good etiquette demands waiting for everyone to be served.
b. No, you only need to wait until the hostess is served.
c. No, you don’t need to wait for anyone if your food is hot.
d. No. It’s now considered okay to dig in as soon as food is put in front of you.
4. You’re eating in a restaurant and you just finished your main course. What should you do
with the knife and fork?
a. Modern etiquette says it no longer matters where you put them.
b. Place them on the table next to the plate.
c. Put them on the plate so that they cross each other, forming an “x.”
d. Lay them side by side at an angle on your plate.
5. The hostess just placed a sweet potato casserole in front of you and asked you to pass it
on. What is the correct thing to do:
a. Ask who wants it
b. Pass it clockwise
c. Pass it counterclockwise
d. Pass it in the direction of the hostess' seat
6. Which of the following is the correct thing to do with your napkin:
a. Place it on your lap as soon as you sit down.
b. Leave it on the chair if you get up in the middle of the meal.
c. Use the napkin to catch a sneeze if you happen to have no tissues.
d. Fold it and place it to the right of the plate at the end of the meal.
7. If during dinner you need to go to the bathroom,
a. simply get up and go.
b. ask if anyone would like to join you.
c. just say, “excuse me” and leave.
d. try to wait until the meal is over.
8. You’re having dinner with Martha Stewart at a nice restaurant. You’ve just been served a
fabulous looking appetizer and would like to take a photo of it. What would Martha
most likely say?
a. She would say it was a good idea as it showcases the chef’s beautiful work.
b. She would tell you not to rush but to do a careful, methodical job of lining up the shot
in order to do the dish justice.
c. She would invite you to take a selfie with her when you’re done.
d. She would say that unless you are a professional photographer doing a job, you have
no business photographing the dish.
9. You’re a server to a party of eight being hosted in a restaurant. When can you start to
a. As soon as one person is done
b. As soon as the host or hostess is done
c. As soon as five persons are done
d. Only when everyone is done
10. Which of these original etiquette rules still applies today:
a. Leave at least one bite of food on the plate to show that enough food was served.
b. Women at the table should be served first.
c. Don’t season your food with salt or pepper before tasting it.
d. Always use a knife and fork as opposed to fingers when eating.
1. b. According to the Emily Post Institute, you should always keep elbows off the table during
a meal, but it is okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between
courses, and always has been, even in Emily’s day.
2. a. Yes, to show respect to your host and fellow dining partners, it’s considered good
manners to silence your cell phone and place it out of sight before sitting down. One of
the basic rules of etiquette is that you keep your belongings off the table, and that
applies to cell phones too.
3. a. Yes you should wait to start eating until everyone at your table has been served, or, at
least, until the host starts eating.
4. d. Etiquette experts agree that this rule is still relevant: When you’re finished with your
plate, lay your fork and knife side by side at an angle on your plate. (Or any utensils you
used during the course.) Servers at restaurants still look for this nonverbal signal to show
you’re finished and that the plate can be cleared.
5. b. Food always gets passed to the left, or clockwise. If you mess up the system and start
passing the dish you're holding another way, it'll throw everything off.
6. b. At a formal dinner, if you need to get up in the middle of the meal, you should leave your
napkin on your chair. When first seated, wait until your host sits down and places the
napkin in his or her lap, then follow suit. At the end of the meal, gently fold the napkin
and place it on the table to the left of your plate. Your napkin is not a tissue and
should not be used as such.
7. c. If you have to leave to use the bathroom, simply excuse yourself. But do not say why!
8. d. Martha Stewart suggests that it’s only acceptable to take a photo when you’re a
professional food writer or photographer — and the meal is taking place in part because
of that profession. If you must take a photo, etiquette experts prefer you do it subtly and
quickly. Since Martha Stewart says one’s cell phone should not be on the table, it’s
doubtful she’d allow a selfie during a meal.
9. d. It's best to wait until all guests at a table have finished eating before clearing a course's
dishes. Clearing one guest's dish before the others may make his or her companions
feel rushed and uncomfortable.
10. c. It's impolite to assume that the chef has not seasoned the food correctly. Wait to season
food with salt and pepper until after you’ve tried a few bites.
It is no longer considered impolite to leave a clean plate.
Many restaurants used to always serve ladies before gents. But these days, gender
doesn’t matter. Many servers place dishes based on the order they come out of the
It may have been frowned upon for decades, but eating with your hands in a restaurant
is now acceptable, etiquette experts say – so long as you do not lick your fingers clean
Recently, while dining with friends, there was a debate which could only be settled by Googling the information. So, I said, “Okay, Google” to my virtual assistant and got the answer. I wonder what Emily Post would say to that? Was is rude to invite a non-human into the conversation? Or was it a perfectly reasonable thing to do, as everyone wanted to know the correct answer?
Later, I was unable to find information on including virtual assistants in dinner conversations. I guess that debate is still ongoing.
“Hey Google, was it polite to ask you a question during dinner?”