We enjoy reading etiquette books from the past. You can get a great idea of what it was like to live during those times in those books. From fashion to cuisine – there were rules and modes of behaviour for everything. And Emily Post, a famous American author on etiquette, was top at explaining them.

Here is a video we found on YouTube featuring Emily Post and Virginia Hopkins on table manners. It’s a short but wonderful tutorial with lots of great tips and graceful mannerisms. It’s vintage; so it’s in black and white; but everything about it is priceless. Hope you enjoy it!

The manners used at the most formal dinner party should be the same used at home.


  • Do dip your spoon away from you when eating soup
  • Do hold your bread against the rim of your plate or on your bread and butter plate when buttering it
  • Do place each serving dish passed to you on the table, to the left of your plate, before serving yourself
  • Do place the serving spoon in your right hand and the serving fork in your left when serving yourself
  • Do eat as quietly as possible
  • Do cut small bite-size pieces of your food separately
  • Do eat desserts with both a spoon and a fork when control is needed
  • Do dip the tips of your fingers into a fingerbowl when its provided and then dry them with your napkin
  • Do blow your nose at the table, if you must, but do so inconspicuously and with a fresh handkerchief
  • Do leave the table if you cough for a length of time


  • Do not have more silverware than courses when setting a table
  • Do not stick your little finger out when picking up a cup
  • Do not begin eating until all food from a course is on your plate
  • Do not talk or drink while food is in your mouth
  • Do not light your cigarette at the dinner table when none have been provided at the table
  • Do not do your make-up at the table

Emily Post (b. 1872) was an author and speaker famous for her books, columns, radio programs, and video tutorials on etiquette. Post grew up in a world of grand estates, cotillions, chauffers, summers at Bar Harbor, and balls in Fifth Avenue mansions. She attended Miss Graham’s finishing school in New York as a teen and later married Edward Post, a prominent banker in 1892.

Emily Post wrote her first etiquette book in 1922 called Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home.  It became a best-seller and made her career. In 1946, she founded The Emily Post Institute, which continues her work.

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