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Five easy rules for mealtime etiquette

Reporter shares five ways to not gross people out with bad table manners

By Lydia Laythe
On April 18, 2013

Growing up, dinner time was a big deal in my family: We'd all sit down together every night and eat a home-cooked meal. By virtue of meals being so important, my parents taught me to value good table manners. Coming to college, it has become apparent to me that not everyone's parents taught them to value the same things. So for the students here on campus who can't grasp the concept of table manners - a concept I learned when I was five -I'm going to give you a quick lesson in how to act like a civilized human being. I call it:

Lydia's 5 Easy Rules for Proper Table Etiquette: How to not get punched in the face while eating dinner with me.

Rule #1: Don't call someone's food "gross"

Biggest pet peeve ever: When someone looks at what another person is eating, scrunches up their face and says "Ew, gross." Rude! If they're eating it, they obviously don't think it's gross. All you're doing is making them feel uncomfortable about eating their food. Unless you're Chef Ramsey, keep your thoughts to yourself. No one's making you eat it, so shut up.

Rule #2: Take small bites

They invented this thing a while back called a knife... use it. No one wants to see you try to shove an entire chicken into your mouth. It's disgusting. Seriously.

Rule #3: Don't leave/clear the table until everyone's done eating

This one is the least crucial for not getting punched in the face, but it's a nice gesture. When you finish eating, especially when you're eating at a restaurant, the waiter will ask if he can clear the table. If the person you're with is still eating, don't let him clear the table. When the waiter takes plates away, it can make the last person left eating feel rushed. It's just a way to be thoughtful and polite.

Rule #4: Chew with your mouth closed

Nothing makes you lose your appetite quicker than watching the contents of someone's mouth slowly turn from a bite of burger to churning, brown mush. No one wants to see that. Close your mouth. It's not that hard.

Rule #5: Don't talk with food in your mouth

I promise there is absolutely nothing you have to say that is important enough to warrant you speaking with food in your mouth... Okay, I take that back - unless, you're telling me that there is one of the following behind me: a) a serial killer, b) a zombie, c) Ryan Gosling/Channing Tatum or d) a spider (but especially spiders because they're the worst). Other than that, it can wait. Finish chewing (with your mouth closed) and THEN tell me what you want to say. If it's important enough to warrant speaking with your mouth full of half-chewed spaghetti, I think you'll remember it after the five seconds it takes to swallow.

So those are my five rules for better table manners. I don't want to punch anyone in the face, but I've given fair warning. So, if I see anyone breaking these rules... you know what to expect.

Lydia Laythe is a freshman social work major. She can be reached at

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