Growing up, my mom was very intentional about teaching my brother and I correct table manners. The basics—only start eating once the host/hostess lifts their fork, no elbows on the table, drinking glass placed by the right hand—all stuck pretty easily. After all, when you're in charge of setting the table, it's hard not to learn how to get it right. But the more detailed etiquette rules, probably decided by some European monarch generations ago, can be pretty tough to master. So here's how to abide by five table manners rules I bet you didn't even know existed. 

1. Hold to properly fold a napkin.

We all know that the napkin goes in your lap once you sit down. But it doesn't just drape there. Fold your napkin in half as it rests on your lap, and when needed, use the inside fold to wipe your face. This technique prevents food stains from setting into your clothes, and also maintains the look of an impeccably eaten meal even if you spill a little. And if you do use the napkin to catch some stray sauce, dab or wipe gently—definitely don't rub.

2. How to hold your utensils.

wine, tea, coffee
Jocelyn Hsu

Yes, there is actually a correct way to hold your knife and fork. Knives always go in the right hand and forks are held in the left. The fork should always be facing the plate, so the knife can be used to scoop food into the fork when necessary. It's also polite to put down utensils in between each bite, so be sure to rest your knife and fork on your plate as you chew.

#SpoonTip: Putting down your utensils in between bites isn't just good manners, it's good for your body! This technique will help you slow down your eating and be more mindful of each bite.

3. Salt and pepper should be passed together.

Not only are salt and pepper shakers often designed to go together (like the adorable puppies above!), but it makes seasoning at the table a whole lot easier if you always know where both shakers are. If someone asks you for the pepper, just grab the salt as well when passing down the table.

#SpoonTip: You can always tell which shaker is which by looking at the number of holes in the top. The salt shaker will have more, because people tend to be more lenient with their salting than with adding pepper.

4. How to signal that you're not finished with your meal.

This one comes in handy when you're at a restaurant. Place your fork (if not using another utensil as well) at the 4 o'clock position on your plate. The angled placement indicates that you're still going, so if you need to get up from the table for any reason you won't have to return to an empty plate. If you're eating with a knife and fork, the knife should be placed at 4 o'clock and the fork should rest perpendicular to it on the left hand side (around the 8 o'clock position).

5. How to signal that you're done eating

There are a variety of signals that you can send at the end of a meal—specifically, the degree to which you enjoyed it. To be safest, the polite way to indicate that your meal is finished is to place all utensils aligned down the middle of the plate (tips at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock). If you want to complement the chef, turn the utensils 90 degrees clockwise (tips at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock). This technique is most helpful at a restaurant, when you're not clearing your own plate, but will make you look all fancy and proper in other eating situations too.

Though these tips are pretty useless for the day-to-day life of a college student, they certainly come in handy during occasions that call for serious adulting. Learn these advanced table manners, and you'll be able to impress during any mealtime job interview, or when you meet your significant other's family, or attend any other formal event.