Dining Etiquette: The 5 Most Horrifying Things People Often Do

Sharing a meal together is one of the most common and beloved ways to spend time with family and friends. There’s nothing quite like food that can bring people together. But what about dining etiquette?!

Whether you share a love of home cooked food, or if you enjoy sampling local restaurants, food is often times the common denominator that brings people together.

While proper dining etiquette has largely given way to more relaxed standards when it comes to dining, there are still plenty of basic rules that anyone should follow whether out at a restaurant or at home.

Sadly, plenty of people don’t always do so! In fact, we’ve compiled this list of the 5 most common (and horrifying!) things that people do while dining. Hopefully none of your habits make this list!

Dining Etiquette 101

1. Double dipping shared food items

This has got the be the worst of all dining etiquette blunders! If there are shared items at the table that you dip from – such as salsa or hummus – do not double dip! If you know you are guilty of doing so, make sure you serve some on your own personal plate so that you can dip freely there.

This is not just rude, it is also not hygienic! Don’t risk spreading any germs you might have, make sure you only dip your food items once!

It is easy to accidentally do this if you are caught up in conversation, but make sure you are aware so that you aren’t accidentally upsetting other dinner guests without even knowing it.

Double dipping is never okay, even if you rotate your chip, vegetable, or other item to a piece that you haven’t taken a bite of. Your fingers have still touched it, so don’t do it!

2. Not quieting your children

This is especially true if you are out at a restaurant, but also applies to at-home dinner parties. Loud children are a major distraction to other diners, and while you cannot help if a child decides to cry, you can control how you respond to the situation. Either tell them to be quiet, or if you have to, get up with them and go outside or into another room so that you are not disturbing everyone else.

If you are planning to go out to a restaurant and know that your small child is likely to not stay quiet, it is best to find someone to watch him or her so that you can go out without them. Not only will you not enjoy the meal if your child is loud, everyone else is sure to be frustrated by it as well.

The worst thing you can do is nothing. Letting your child stay loud, or especially letting them wander around a restaurant and possibly bothering other diners, is a major dining etiquette blunder.

If you go out with your children, it is your responsibility to watch them and keep them well-behaved! For some parents, they understand that they cannot take their children out while they are very small.

Out of respect to everyone else, they stay in or find a sitter so that everyone else is not bothered. If you fall into that category as well, that is okay! Once your child is old enough and can stay quiet, you can bring them easily without fear of causing a scene.

3. Picking/cleaning your teeth

Yes, there are some dinner items that are going to get stuck in between your teeth. Between garnishes getting stuck, to certain types of meat that always seem to get caught in your teeth, it happens!

However, cleaning or picking at your teeth in front of other people is never the appropriate solution. You should either way until you are home and in private to do so, or excuse yourself to the bathroom if you are out and cannot wait until you are home.

Some restaurants do provide toothpicks for this type of situation, but that still doesn’t make it okay to use them in public! Out of respect to everyone else, make sure you do so in the bathroom or even out in your car if you have to.

Just not in front of other people! You likely wouldn’t want to see someone else cleaning their teeth, so return the favor and keep that private.

4. Treating waiters/waitresses rudely

This only applies to dining out at a restaurant, but it couldn’t be more rude. Always be kind to your server, acknowledge them, and say thank you! Waiters and waitresses work very hard to serve you, and treating them poorly is one of the worst dining mistakes you can make.

Out on a first date? You can be sure your date will notice how you treat your servers! If you are rude and don’t get a second date, you should have a pretty good idea of why!

If you do happen to have poor service, there are subtle ways that you can bring up the issue. We recommend leaving the restaurant and either asking to speak to a manager as you leave, or writing a letter (or social media message) after the fact describing why you were less than satisfied.

Making a scene while at dinner and talking directly to the server is typically not the way to handle the situation. Often times, if something goes wrong, it is not your waiter or waitresses fault, and it is not fair to take out your frustrations on them.

The same goes for tipping! Tipping is such an important part of a waiter or waitresses income, so you should always be kind when tipping. Even if the service was not excellent, do not decide not to tip because of it. Have you ever had a bad day at work? It happens! Would you be okay with getting paid significantly less because of it? Probably not.

5. Using your cell phone

Finally, here is a major dining blunder that we can probably all admit to doing. We are all guilty of using our cell phones at the table! Just because everyone does it, doesn’t make it right. It is very rude to ignore the company you are with in order to look at your cell phone.

We recommend placing your phone either completely on silent, or setting it so that it will only go off in certain emergency situations (say if your babysitter calls). If you do get a call and it is one you need to take, remove yourself from the table when you answer. There is nothing more rude than someone talking on their phone at the dinner table!

We can all do better about cell phone usage, and a great place to start is while at dinner. Dinner is time to unwind, relax, and enjoy a pleasant conversation with company. Don’t let your phone get in the way of that! It will be ready and waiting for you when you are finished.

Sharing a meal together is supposed to always be a positive experience enjoyed by family and friends. While you don’t need to worry as much anymore about things like using the right fork for your salad vs. your entree, you do want to follow basic dining etiquette so that you aren’t bothering other diners!

Do you know someone that does something on this list? Does it irritate you? Or do you have another dining pet peeve that isn’t mentioned here? Let us know!

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