Do You Wait to Eat Until Everyone Is Served at the Dinner Table?

(Image credit: Alexis Buryk)

There you are: hungry, waiting anxiously at your friend’s dinner table for a plate of lasagna. Your host serves everyone at the table except one person, explaining that she needs to add more cheese to that particular portion.

What do you do: Wait until the last person is served, or dig in?

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

I personally believe that you should eat immediately when you’re served food. Especially if it’s hot, your meal shouldn’t go cold because you’re trying to be polite. It also makes me anxious when people wait for me to be served at dinner, because I don’t want be the reason they’re not eating if they’re hungry.

I don’t always follow what I believe, however, because I don’t want to come across as rude. So, is there a better rule to live by?

When I asked this question to my fellow Kitchn editors, Christine chimed in that she had heard (and lives by) this smart rule.

If there are six or fewer people at the table, you should wait to eat until everyone is served.

This rule of thumb reflects how situational this etiquette dilemma can be. When you’re out at a restaurant with a table of dozen people, eating right away as your corner of the table is served feels fine. But other situations call for judgment.

Whether you’re out to a business meal, or with family at the Thanksgiving table, or out on a first date – you’ll most likely have to feel out how the other guests would feel if you ate before they were served.

What do you think? Do you always wait until everyone is served?