Home & Family

Test Your Knowledge on U.S. Dining Etiquette

The holiday season obligates many people to join in the festivities – from large business gatherings to intimate dining events. If you want to make a good impression, you’ll want to be up to date on the latest dining etiquette. Test your knowledge with our dining quiz to see what you know! Choose the best answer.

  1. For large social events, when do experts say it’s generally best to arrive?

a)  Exactly on time

b)  Twenty minutes early

c)   Fashionably late

d)   Ten minutes early

2. Which is not considered to be a proper hostess gift?

a) A scented candle

b) A bouquet of fresh cut flowers

c) A bracelet

d) A decorative frame for photos

3. You attend a dinner party, and the host stands up to make a toast. What do you do?

a) Sit quietly with hands folded on lap until the host is done talking

b) Sip your drink while the host makes the toast

c) Also stand and be ready to toast the celebration

d) Tap the side of your glass with a utensil and cheer loudly

4. Which is a proper action at a dinner party?

a) Saying thank you to the bus boy who removes your plate

b) Passing both the salt and pepper shakers together when asked for one by another guest

c) Passing food from left to right

d) All of the above

5. You attend a small sit-down dinner at someone’s home but do not like your food. What should you do?

a) Complain to the host so they can offer you an alternative meal

b) Cut the food and pretend to eat it, hiding some in your napkin

c) Lie to the host and say that you are ill

d) If unable to provide a compliment, simply keep quiet

6. Which should you never do?

a) Answer a phone call during dinner

b) Blow your nose at the table

c) Say “excuse me” when leaving the table

d) A & B

7. You wish to decline a glass of wine. You should…

a) Tell the hostess to have your wine glass removed

b) Turn your glass upside down to indicate no wine

c) Hold your hand over the wine glass to signal that you do not want any

d) Force yourself to drink what is poured

8. You and your date plus two other couples are dining at a restaurant. What should you do with the bill?

a) Review the bill after the meal and put in the amount you personally owe

b) Expect to divide the bill equally

c) Ask for separate checks after the bill has already arrived

d) Short the tip if you did not drink any alcohol or order dessert and others did

9. As soon as you are seated, what should you do with your napkin?

a) Leave it on the table until dinner is served

b) Unfold it and put it on your lap

c) Shake it open and then place it on your lap

d) Put it under your chin like a bib

10. You need to use the powder room. You politely excuse yourself. What should you do with your napkin?

a)Place it on the seat of your chair

b) Loosely fold it and place it near your plate

c) Wad it up so the waiter can refold it

d) Hand it to the waiter

11. You attend a small formal office dinner party at a restaurant. Everyone is seated. When do you begin to eat?

a) As soon as your food is served

b) As soon as both the person to the left and right of you is served

c) As soon as the boss is served

d) Wait until all are served

12. You are at an intimate dinner at a friend’s home. When should you start eating?

a) As soon as everyone sits down

b) When your plate is put in front of you

c) When your host or hostess picks up their fork to eat

d) Whenever you want

13. There are three forks to the left of your plate. Which one is for dessert?

a) The one farthest away from you

b) The one in the middle

c) The one closest to you

d) The largest one

14. There are three glasses to the right of your plate. Which one is for water?

a) Any as it doesn’t matter

b) The goblet-shaped glass closest to you

c) The middle Bordeaux-style drinking glass

d) The smaller bowled glass that is farthest away

15. The table is full of dinnerware. To which side sits your bread & butter plate?

a) Eat to your left, so the one on the left is yours

b) Eat to your right, so take the one on the right

c) Take whichever bread plate is closer to you

d) The butter plate is just for show so don’t use it

16. Which of the following is considered poor manners?

a) Resting your hands, elbows, or arms on the table

b) Resting your knife on the tablecloth in between cuts

c) Signal to the waiter when you are done eating, so that he may remove your plate

d) A, B, & C are considered poor manners

17. To signal when you are done eating a course at a restaurant, you should…

a) Stand your silverware up in your empty water goblet

b) Rest your fork on your plate, tines down, knife blade out, with handles at 6 o’clock and tips at 12 o’clock

c) Rest your fork on your plate, tines up, knife blade in, with handles at 5 o’clock and tips at 10 o’clock

d) Neatly place your silverware beside your plate, forks left and knives to the right

18. You are leaving a tip at a restaurant. You should…

a) Never tip the owner of a restaurant if they serve you

b) Lower the price of the tip if you are using a gift card

c) Tip your waiter 15 to 20% of the bill or more for extraordinary service

d) Never tip over 25%

19. Someone asks you a question while you are chewing food. You should…

a) Wave your hand in front of your face and chew faster

b) Put down your fork, raise your napkin, finish chewing, then answer

c) Politely spit your food into your napkin, then answer

d) Put your hand out and say “Wait” to let them know now is not a good time

20. At a holiday work party, which of the following should you do?

a) Avoid drinking to excess

b) Be sure to say hello to your boss and thank your host

c) Dine and dash to avoid small talk

d) A & B but not C


Grade: A (Zero to 2 wrong answers) –  Congratulations. You have excellent dining etiquette.

Grade B (3 to 4 wrong answers) – Very good, just a few minor adjustments required.

Grade C (5 to 6 wrong answers) – Still good, but a work in progress.

Grade D (7 to 8 wrong answers) – You need a bit more dining etiquette training.

Grade F (9 or more wrong answers) – Yikes! You’ve got a lot to learn!

Answer key:

1 (d) 2 (b) 3 (c) 4 (d) 5 (d) 6 (d) 7 (c) 8 (b) 9 (b) 10 (b) 11 (d) 12 (c) 13 (c) 14 (b) 15 (a) 16 (d) 17 (c) 18 (c) 19 (b) 20 (d)

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

Support the AMAC Foundation. Our 501(c)(3) powers the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory Services. This team of nationally accredited advisors offers on-time, on-the-mark guidance for those approaching or receiving Social Security – at no cost.

Donate Now

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x