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Modern American Manners

Dining Etiquette for Hosts and Guests

By Fred Mayo and Michael Gold

This practical and humorous guide helps readers learn appropriate manners so they can enjoy the pleasures of good food, good drink, and good company without worrying about what behavior is proper. Chapters cover how to be a good host, how to be a good guest, and how to behave at business events, cocktail parties, formal dinners, and restaurants. There is also a unique chapter discussing pet peeves and how to handle them with grace, civility, and appropriate manners.

What’s the proper way to hold a wine glass? What’s an appropriate gift to bring a host—and what shouldn’t you bring? How should you correctly introduce guests to each other? If you’re the host, how do you determine who should sit next to whom? What should you do if you don’t want to drink alcohol at a cocktail party? What is appropriate cell phone usage at a business dinner? Here are easy-to-implement answers to these and many other important etiquette questions.

Lavishly illustrated with memorable full-color photographs that highlight both good and bad table manners, Modern American Manners is full of friendly advice for business professionals, college students entering the workplace, and anyone needing a refresher course or an introduction to proper behavior.

Photo © Mike Gold

Fred Mayo recently retired as Clinical Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at New York University. He has been a college professor, administrator, trainer, and small business owner. He currently teaches etiquette and manners courses. He loves to entertain and make each dinner party special. He has an MBA, a PhD, and certifications in hospitality. He lives in New Paltz, New York.

Michael Gold‘s photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Fortune, Esquire, and more. He lives in New Paltz, New York.


MODERN AMERICAN MANNERS: Dining Etiquette for Hosts and Guests focuses on just that: all matters of etiquette pertaining to dining. How to set a proper table; how to be an excellent host or a guest; networking efficiently but not aggressively; and minutiae like the proper way to hold a drink and a canapé in one hand so that you can shake with the other—all are covered, with accompanying photographs reminiscent of Glamour magazine’s old Dos and Don’ts pages, without the black bars. I don’t think the pictures are meant to be funny. But try not to laugh at the photo captioned Simply ignore guests who fall asleep at the table. Much of the advice seems sound, if occasionally puzzling. For example, apparently you’re supposed to seat the obnoxious over-sharers and conversation monopolizers at the far reaches of a dinner table, in order to protect your guests. This can’t be true. After all, I’m almost always the person seated at the foot of the table at my friends’ dinner parties. Oh.” —Judith Newman, “Among the Vulgarians,” New York Times Book Review, 12/1/17

​“Fabulous … a sensible, simple, concise, and fun approach.” —Kevin Zraly, James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner

“The essentials of contemporary manners … all illustrated with Michael’s spot on, often humorous, photographs.” —Melanie Young, host of The Connected Table LIVE!

“Clearly written and comprehensive … belongs in the hands of everyone who would have the world think well of them.” —Darrin Siegfried, president emeritus, Sommelier Society of America

“A useful guide to navigating the often confusing—and always evolving—world of manners at today’s dinner table. Among many things, it is a quiet plea to acknowledge civility at a time when we apparently need it most.” —James Oseland, former editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine and judge on Top Chef Masters

Modern American Manners
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Skyhorse Publishing, April 2017

Copiously illustrated in full color with examples of Do’s and Don’ts

Greet guests warmly when they arrive (page 56)

Do not read your tablet at the table (page 38)

Simply ignore guests who fall asleep at the table (p. 67)