Manner #20: End of Meal Manners

Attention Getter: I served dessert first.  (I mean if we are going to talk about the end of the meal manners, we have to be at the end of the meal, right?)  My kids were happy and surprised to see cookies on the table when they came to dinner.

Manner: I pitched the lesson as the “5 things to do at the end of a meal”:  (I find info easier to remember if I know how many things I have to remember.)

1. Put your soiled napkin to the left of your plate.  The napkin should never go on your plate.

2. Put your utensils on your plate at the 5:20 position with the tines of the fork facing down.  A simpler way to explain it is the handles point to the 5 and the tops face the 10.

3. Clean up your area as much as possible.  If at home, clear your plate (and napkin, and cup, and silverware).

4. Push in your chair.

5. Thank your host.

Why: The end of meal manners just help to make mom’s job easier and/or a waiter’s job easier.  The utensils on the plate signal to the waiter that you are finished eating and then also aid in clearing the plate.   If everyone scoots in their own chair and clears their own plate, clean-up goes faster.

Practice: I set the table with paper plates.  I had the kids draw a clock on the plates.  We practiced before dinner what the 5:20 position looks like with our utensils.  (For younger kids, just be glad if they get the utensils on the plate.)  We ate off the plates and then they could put their utensils in the correct position at the end of the meal.

Follow-Up: I just try to say “thank you” to my children as much as I can when I see them following a manner at the end of the meal.  “Thank you for clearing your plate” or “Thank you for scooting your chair in” goes a long way.

5 thoughts on “Manner #20: End of Meal Manners”

  1. Thank you so much for all of your great manner lessons! I have been sitting here for the last hour reading through all of them! I am teaching a group of 8 and 9 year olds some manners tomorrow for a church project and your website has been great! I wanted to point out though, that on your “Napkin Etiquette” you said when you are done with your food, to place your soiled napkin to the RIGHT of your plate. On this End of Meal Manners, you mentioned to replace it on the LEFT of the plate. I understand that it has been years since you posted all of these lessons, but I wanted to be clear on the matter. Thanks a bunch!!!!

    1. Thanks Mallory! I am glad the information was helpful to you. And sorry about the confusion with the napkin. According to Emily Post’s 18th Edition Etiquette Book, the napkin should be placed to the LEFT of the plate. I think the main thing that matters is that the napkin is not set back on top of a dirty plate. Thanks for clearing this up. I will make the correction in the post.

      1. The neapkin goes on the RIGHT side of the plate at the end of the meal, signaling to the server that you are done. Just like passing, the napkin starts on the left and moves to the right.

  2. Loved the website. I’m getting ready to teach second thru fifth graders manners and found your hints very helpful.

  3. My 11 year old will be teaching your 20 manners at activity days today. My favorite part is the bride and groom salt shakers. (I’ve had white-salt, black-pepper shakers and I’ve scourging the internet for how to turn them into bride and grooms. Thanks for your picture!)

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