Things Not to Say at the Dinner Table

We have a big family and we have a lot of family dinners at our house. The mealtime conversations can go from one extreme to the other and everything in between.

I’ve heard that sometimes, however, in the middle of eating dinner with a mouthful of pasta, all of a sudden someone says something so horrific/embarrassing/depressing/uncensored that you’d rather crawl under the table than sit upright in your seat. Of course, that never happens with us. Right? (insert raised eyebrows)

Family dinners should be about family bonding and catching up with light, funny banter. Key words: should be.

I read these rules a while ago and thought I’d pass them along. Learn these and never forget — no matter who you’re sharing a meal with, because there are certain topics you just need to avoid when eating. While I’m pretty sure that all of you know know the general rules of thumb when it comes to table manners (don’t chew with your mouth open, no elbows on the table, etc.) you should be very aware of where conversations can lead if you open up the floor for discussion.

So without further ado, let’s talk — or not talk — about the things you shouldn’t say at any dinner table.

  1. When are you two getting engaged?: If you’ve known the couple long enough, you know enough about the status and/or length of their relationship to know that a proposal is either on the horizon or it’s not. Also, it’s most likely a discussion they’ve already had and don’t need to be reminded of. If they have something to share, they will.
  2. What exactly is this?: No, no, NO. Even if you have a genuine curiosity, just wait for the host or hostess to explain what’s for dinner because nine times out of ten, your question will sound rude.
  3. I can’t do this anymore: Whatever it is — live at home, date your girlfriend, talk to your parents — have this conversation after dinner and somewhere in private. It’s just going to create a super awkward atmosphere for everyone else otherwise.
  4. Man, this ____ is going to go right through me: This should be a given. No one wants to hear about your bathroom woes. Ever.
  5. Heard you got a raise — that’s awesome. How much?: Never, ever ask someone about their money. A big, fat NO. If they want to share, they will.
  6. Haven’t you had enough? / Someone’s hungry: If they want another serving of mashed potatoes or pasta, who cares? Let it be.
  7. Can I take your plate? If they have a fork or spoon still in their mouth, chances are they aren’t finished eating. So let them throw their napkin on the dish and set their utensils down before asking them this question. And while we’re at it, it’s also rude to get up from the table when other people are still eating, so sit down!
  8. That looks . . . interesting: Even if you really mean it, use the word “good” instead, otherwise your chef for the evening will assume you mean it looks unappetizing.
  9. Oh my gosh, did you hear about that gross _____?: Thanks for ruining everyone’s appetite, jerk.
  10. Your father/mother and I are getting a divorce: Who wants to eat after hearing that? No one.
  11. I’m on a diet. / I’m not hungry: Sure you are. And please tell us how what we’re eating is horrible for our bodies while you’re at it.
  12. This is great, but it would be better with _____: Do you want to cook? No? Then shut up.
  13. Who are you voting for? This is an easy one and will never end well, so just avoid it and say “How about them Yankees?”
  14. Whispering: Everyone else at the table is going to assume you’re talking about them. Like the saying goes, “secrets, secrets are no fun, unless they are for everyone.” Boom.
  15. Nothing at all: Silence speaks volumes, and even worse are facial expressions. No raised eyebrows or scrunched faces ever.

Great guidelines to make those dinners a success.

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