Most of us are comfortable going out to restaurants for casual meals with friends and family, but when it comes to proper at home dinner parties, we are full of nerves. Which fork is the salad fork? Is it really rude to show up without a gift? It can be overwhelming trying to remember all the etiquette rules, but lucky for you, we have a quick and handy guide with tips that will have you prepared or any dinner party invite that comes your way.
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Répondez s’il vous plait (RSVP)
Please respond to an RSVP within 24 hours of receiving your invitation. The RSVP lets the host know whether you will attend the event so they are able to plan food quantities, seating arrangements, dietary restrictions, and anything else they need to accommodate guests.
Considering bringing a plus one – don’t! An invitation is extended to the people the hosts would like to attend—and no one else. In extreme circumstances, if there is a plus one, please ask the host in advance. Bringing an extra guest to a dinner party without advance notice places the host in an awkward position.
Bring a Hostess Gift
Photo Credit: Marigold Grey
It takes a lot of work to throw a great party, show a little appreciation for the host/hostess by bringing a gift. A bottle of wine or liquor, flowers or a fun household item is the perfect way to say thank you. Avoid homemade items or anything too personal.
Don’t Phone Home
This is one etiquette rule we are all guilty of breaking. When you put your phone on the table during dinner you are creating a barrier between you and guest. Using your device during a meal is basically saying that your phone/text/email is more important than face to face interaction and conversation with the host and other guests. Consider this a time to showcase your wonderful people skills, and be present in the moment. Please keep your mobile device stashed, and if you absolutely must take a call, please excuse yourself.
Set the Table
Photo Credit: The Rose Record
Proper table settings can seem overwhelming at first, but if you remember this little acronym will help you get it right every time – B.M.W. – Bread, Meal, Water (left to right). For example, liquids are on the right, and solids, like the salad plate or a bread and butter plate, are on the left. You’ll never make the mistake of using your neighbor’s place settings again.
Buttering Your Bread
A tell tale sign of whether or not you know basic table manners becomes evident when the bread and butter is served. Place the butter onto the bread plate instead of directly onto your roll, then break, not cut, the bread and butter one bite-size piece at a time. Never butter a whole slice of bread at once, or slice a roll in half and butter it.
Be Silverware Savvy
Photo Credit: Clise Etiquette
Always remember that silverware is set from the outside in, with spoons and knives on the right side and forks on the left. Never use utensils as a weapon or gesture with silverware in your hand to make a point —if you’re not using a utensil, put it down on your plate. When you finish a course, place the knife and fork in the “finished” position. The 4:20 position (placed like hands on a clock) signals to your server that you have finished your course
Toast to the Host
Toasting to love, friendship, health, wealth, and happiness has been a staple in our society since the beginning of time. Traditionally, the host or hostess offers the first toast. Around a table with friends, however, a guest can propose the first toast as a way to thank the host for bringing everyone together. As a rule of thumb just remember that one does not drink a toast to one’s self!
Finally, remember to sit back, relax and have fun with family and friends! That’s an etiquette rule that makes for the perfect party every time.