Emily Post would be very disappointed in the way you've been eating brunch
It makes sense that if you come from a world-famous family known for creating the rules of etiquette, you'd be a natural at giving etiquette advice.
For Lizzie Post, spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute, it's in her blood. The great-great-grandaughter of the Emily Post, with the help of her family, has kept the legacy alive with a unique spin on modern-day living. Instead of telegramming, it's texting. Instead of courtship, it's Tinder. And instead of tea, it's brunch. Lizzie's breaking it down for us.
Not only are there different etiquette rules for different meals, no experience will ever be completely alike. Unlike for breakfast and dinner, brunch coordination is much more flexible. When it comes to brunch with friends, for instance, there's a lot more effort that goes into planning and coordination.
It used to be that brunch was the least formal meal, though. As Lizzie told us, "[For] my grandmother, going back to 1960, brunch wasn't coordinated with a phone call or handwritten invite, but was suggested on your way out the door." These days, some diners make reservations way in advance, and organize the get-togethers with group chats.
And oh boy, we've been doing a few other things all wrong.
"One of the biggest mistakes I think people make comes from a lack of awareness, " Lizzie explains. The first misconception is how to split the check. In the age of Venmo, calculators and banking apps, what is appropriate when dining out with friends? How about when it comes to paying the bill with co-workers or family?
It's all about being polite, reasonable and genuine with your fellow diners. Is it fair to split the check? Is someone treating you? Those are some of the questions you might want to ask, according to Lizzie.
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The second issue people run into when brunching is how to split the food. "One of the biggest mistakes people make is when someone's new boyfriend or girlfriend comes to town, or you're meeting your significant other's parents, you forget that those assumptions don't apply in those situations," Lizzie says. Think twice before reaching over the table and feeding your significant other.
Lizzie suggests it's all about being aware and feeling the situation out. If you normally share with your roommate or are planning to eat "family style," it's smart to ask for separate serving spoons and dishes. If you're dining with total strangers, you may want to hold off on eating with your hands or picking off your boyfriend's plate.
While "napkins on the lap" seems like Etiquette 101, you'd be surprised by how many people forgo napkins for crumby hands and sticky fingers. Don't, Lizzie advises.
Furthermore, did you know there are a few variations to the "elbows on the table" rule? "It's not technically rude, but it's all about how you do it," she explains.
If you're using your hands to gesture and invite people into a conversation, placing your elbows on the table is totally okay. However, "If you're using your elbows to hold your head up and look completely disengaged, it's not appropriate."
The key to the perfect brunch is enjoying a "casual meal where friends and family can relax and connect." For Lizzie, that means sipping on a brunch cocktail at Bob Evans and digging into a ham biscuit Benedict.
Emily would be proud.