Annie R. Gregory has 3 and a half pages dedicated to table etiquette tips in her 1907 Woman’s Favourite Cook Book.  I won’t list them all, but I’ll give you some of the less obvious ones to help you get through your holiday dinners with minimal faux pas.

  • Never hesitate to take the last piece.
  • The fork should be used for mashing and eating potatoes.  Never touch potato with a knife, except to butter it.
  • Do not ask any one whether he wishes more potato, etc., but some potato.
  • Do not give any one at the table the trouble of waiting on you if there be a servant in the room.
  • Do not oblige the carver to make a selection for you when asked what part of the fowl you prefer, but answer promptly, giving your preference.
  • Do not eat onions or garlic unless intending to remain alone.
  • Do not eat after passing a plate for another to the carver, until the plate has been returned.
  • If the host is carving, at a family table, it is not necessary to wait until all are served before beginning to eat.
  • Never make a hissing sound when eating soup.

We are also advised that the usual hour for a city dinner party is at seven, though they are often earlier in the country. The hostess is reminded not to betray ignorance or show nervousness, as the success of the whole affair is dependant on her alone.  A formal dinner party requires one servant for every six guest, though for an informal dinner you can get by with one servant per dozen guests, provided that the servant is well-trained.

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