1. Are elbows ever allowed on the table? Yes. In between courses or when no food is on the table. This holds true for everyone at the table.
2. When eating soup, should you spoon the soup away from you? Yes. Soup is always spooned away from, not toward you. This prevents spills and eliminates the appearance of "shoveling."
3. Is it okay to blow on soup to cool it down? No. Blowing on soup will only make it splatter. If your soup is too hot, skim from the top, where it will be cooler.
4. When you have to leave the table to use the restroom, should you say "Will you please excuse me"? Yes. No explanation is necessary. Avoid phrases such as "I need to use the restroom" or "I need to text my boyfriend."
5. If you spill something on someone, should you help them clean it off? No. What if the spill is in a "compromising" area? Wiping in that area will only bring attention to an already sensitive situation. Offer to pay the cleaning bill.
6. Is it polite to cut up all your meat or vegetables before you begin eating? No. Unless you are a baby being fed, food should be cut one bite at a time.
7. If a dish of food or basket of bread is not directly in front you, should you reach over someone to grab it? No. Simply ask for it to be passed. If you are the host, always pass the bread basket to the right but first offer it to the guest on your left so they don't have to wait until the basket makes it all the way around the table.
8. When eating bread or rolls, should you break the bread with your hands and use a butter knife to butter each piece one bite at a time? Yes. Only morning toast and bagels are buttered and eaten without being broken into pieces.
9. Should a napkin be used as a handkerchief if you are without one? No. No explanation needed.
10. Is it okay to pick up your chicken with your fingers when you go out to dinner? No. Chicken must be cut with a knife and fork. Exception: in your own home with family, or at a picnic.
Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler's Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (www.AMLGroup.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on http://www.Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and www.Facebook.com/LisaGrotts.
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