dining-etiquette-valentines-day

Dining Etiquette Tips to Impress Your Valentine

Normally on the Executive Impressions blog I post articles to help to move you one step closer to a confident and elegant executive presence. But with Valentine’s day only one week away (yes, one week!), I want to share with you some practical tips for your Valentine’s Day dinner. Whether you’re organising an evening out with that special person in your life, or a group of friends, you can use these tips for this fun and romantic event, and also for your important business lunches.

1. Use the Right Wine Glass

If you’re going to a formal meal, you will have in front of you a variety of glassware. Scroll down to take at look at a formal place setting below. In a formal setting, you will have four glasses. The largest glass is reserved for water, the second largest is for your red wine, the next size down is for your white wine, and the flute is of course for your Champagne or sparkling wine. Before your Valentine’s meal, get to know your glassware and impress your dining partner by knowing exactly which glass is for the red wine and which glass is for the white wine.

2. Use the Correct Cutlery

When you order your meal, the service staff will make sure that you have the appropriate cutlery for the food you have ordered. Quite often when you order steak, the server will swap your dinner knife for a steak knife. The general rule in dining etiquette for your cutlery is to start from the outside and work your way inward. In other words,

  • If you ordered salad for your entree (first course), you would use the fork furthest to the left of the plate and the knife furthest to the right (see the diagram below).
  • If your next course is fish, you would use your fish fork which is the second fork from the left and the second knife on the right side of the plate.
  • For the main course, you would use your dinner fork which is the fork closest to the plate, and your dinner knife which is also closest to the plate on the right side.

Knowing your cutlery, just like knowing your glassware, can instantly make you look sophisticated and poised.

3. Choose the Perfect Table and Chair

Visit the restaurant beforehand and pick out the table where you would like to sit with your dining partner. Choose a table that is a little secluded; it can be rather distracting when you can hear the next table’s conversation during your meal. Offering the best seat to the person you are with is also a simple yet very effective way to impress them. Generally we feel a lot more comfortable when we are sitting with our back to a wall or object of some kind, so offer your partner this seat and preferably one with a view to the rest of the room.

4. Pay For the Meal Discreetly

If you’ve invited somebody out to a meal, it’s really your responsibility to pay for it. The only exception would be if the other person has requested to pay for their share and you have organised this with them beforehand. Otherwise, the person who invites is the person who pays. The most elegant way to pay for a meal is to not let the other person see you pay. Just after dessert, excuse yourself from the table, and head over to the reception and pay for the meal. Or, organise to pay for the meal in advance. This will allow you to spend the evening stress-free with your dining partner.

5. Turn Your Cell Phone Off

A Valentine’s meal is special. It’s a moment you can share with that special person in your life and you should have no interruptions. That means, your cell phone, iPhone, smartphone and old mobile phone should be turned off. Don’t even consider turning it to silent. The vibration on cell phones when on silent mode can be quite distracting, even if it’s in your bag.

English formal place setting

[Header image courtesy of Apolonia/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]

About Kara

Kara Ronin is the founder of Executive Impressions. She is an executive coach who specialises in leadership presence, social skills and business etiquette. She is also the creator of Bestselling Udemy course, Business Etiquette 101. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Muse, The Local France, The West Australian, and more. Kara works regularly with lawyers, investment bankers, and finance professionals to help them build presence, authority and influence in business. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox