What is your Etiquette IQ?

Congratulations and continued success on the 1st year anniversary of Cuisine Noir Magazine. Wow, how time passes quickly. During this special edition, I am taking a different approach by not providing a lot of new information; however obtaining feedback from our readers on the amount of information you have comprehended during this past year.

There is a learning philosophy which measures the success of teachers by the progression of the students. I have written 12 detailed and informative etiquette articles. Now it’s time to gauge your progress. Take the following Etiquette IQ quiz and post your score.

Here are your questions. Good luck!

  1. Is tipping a requirement for take out orders and if so, what is the proper amount?
  2. When setting a table for a formal meal, do you include the coffee cup and saucer?
  3. How do you properly consume hot soup?
  4. While traveling, how much should you allot as a tip for the following services: Bellman, Valet Parking, Doorman and Maid Service?
  5. While eating a meal American Style or Continental Style, where do you place your eating utensils when you are not using them for each style of dining?
  6. How long and detailed should a thank-you note be?
  7. If someone asks you to pass the salt, should you pass the pepper also?
  8. What is the maximum number of glasses at a formal place setting; 3, 4 or 5?
  9. Is there a difference between the way you place a luncheon napkin in your lap versus the way you place a dinner napkin in your lap?
  10. If you attend a wedding, must you give a gift?
  11. When eating watermelon, what do you do with the seeds?

Q. Is tipping a requirement for take out orders and if so, what is the proper amount?

For carry-out orders, tipping is not required. Tipping by definition is a gratuity for service rendered. Consideration, however, should be made if a lot of time and effort are exerted when packaging an order (i.e. large group purchases). Since tips are not required, any amount given should be appreciated. I recommend amounts ranging from a couple of dollars to 10. (Submitted by DB)

Q. When setting a table for a formal meal, do you include the Coffee cup and saucer?

Coffee cups and saucers are not placed on the table at a formal setting. After the main meal is completed and the dishes removed, the coffee cups are brought in as preparation for the dessert service. (Dec 2009 issue)

Q. How do you properly consume hot soup?

Soups are not to be blown. If the soup is hot, fill the spoon and skim across the top of the soup. (Nov 2009 issue)

Q. While traveling, how much should you allot as a tip for the following services? Bellman, Valet Parking, Doorman and Maid Service

Tipping guidelines – Bellman: $1-2 per bag. Valet Parking: $2 when your car is retrieved. Doorman: $2 for hailing a cab. Maid Service: $2-5 per night. Place tip in a marked envelope labeled housekeeping then leave on a pillow, desk area or in the bathroom. Room Service: the gratuity is usually added to the bill, if not, tip 18-20. Remember to have the exact change ready. (May 2010 issue)

Q. While eating a meal, where do you place your eating utensils when you’re not using them?

Never place dirty utensils back on the table once used. A utensil when not in use should be placed on your plate. The knife when dining American style is to be placed horizontally across the top of the plate after cutting. The fork when not in use is positioned at 4:00 for right handed (rh) diners and 7:00 for lefties (lh). This is accomplished by visualizing a clock face on your plate. Once the main course is completed, the utensils are placed together in a 3:15 (rh) or 9:45 position (lh). The Continental method dictates that the knife and fork are placed in a triangular position when not in use during the meal. Upon completion, place together at 6:30. (Oct 2009 issue)

Q. How long and detailed should a thank-you note be?

A proper thank you response is not required to be long and elaborate. It’s the thought that counts. Your note can contain as few as four sentences. Be sure, however, to be specific and personable. Content elements could include: acknowledgement of the gift or deed; appreciation of the gift or deed; your thoughts on how the deed made you feel, or share how the gift will be used. Also included within your note should be some mention of something other than gratitude for the gift. Lastly, a final remark of greeting and affection should conclude your note. Remember to use your best penmanship when writing and try to mail your card within a week. (Jan 2010 issue)

Q. If someone asks you to pass the salt, should you pass the pepper also?

Yes. “They are married and get lonely without each other.” When passing the salt and pepper, pass them as a pair. While dining casually or formally, at home or in public, the salt and pepper shakers always remain together. Imagine the two being separated and on different ends of the table. This could cause a major dining disruption with all guests in search of them. Pass both the salt and pepper together until they reach the requestor. (Submitted by Hannibal)

Q. Is there a difference between the way you place a luncheon napkin in your lap versus the way you place a dinner napkin in your lap?

Yes. A luncheon napkin (usually a paper napkin) should be completely unfolded. The large dinner napkin which measures 18 to 24 inches should be folded in half and placed in your lap. This would avoid mistaking the larger dinner napkin with the formal tablecloth which drapes over the edge of the table 18 inches; what a lot of cloth. One does not want to grab the tablecloth versus one’s napkin. (Sept 2009 issue)

Q. What is the maximum number of glasses at a formal place setting?

Five. The maximum number of glasses one will find at a place setting is five: a water goblet, a white wine glass, a red wine glass, a sherry glass, and a champagne flute. The glasses are placed to the right of the plate, above the knives. (Dec 2009 issue)

Q. If you attend a wedding, must you give a gift?

As an invited guest, you are obligated to give a gift unless otherwise stated on the invitation. Traditionally, all gifts are to be sent to the bride’s home before the wedding. Within some regions and cultures, it is acceptable to bring the gift to the reception; however keep in mind that transporting gifts from the reception can be an inconvenience for the family. The grace period for giving a gift is one year; although it is best to send your gift within three months. (March 2010 issue)

Q. When eating watermelon, what do you do with the seeds?

Watermelon is usually juicy therefore it is best to eat it with a fork. Seeds are deposited into the palm of ones hand and transferred back to the plate. (July 2010 issue)

Remember to share your etiquette IQ results by posting a comment below.

Until next month, make practicing etiquette and exemplifying exemplary decorum an every day part of your life.

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Tina Hayes is the founder and owner of The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Antioch, CA. As a passionate instructor dedicated to providing quality and professional etiquette training to her clients, Mrs. Tina Hayes promotes the awareness that social presentation and behaviors are important to be successful in today's society for all ages.