Dinner Party Etiquette
Tonight, Beau and I are having our favorite couple (Johnny and Patrick) over for dinner. They’re fun, have a great sense of humor, easy-going, and (of course) wine drinkers. What else could you ask for in a dinner party guest?! I have to say, they really do exemplify the perfect dinner party couple, and have inspired me to create the following list of etiquette “musts” for when you are invited into someone’s home for a dinner party.
*Note: these general rules apply to smaller dinner parties
• Offer to bring something! This isn’t a charity case – even if the host insists that they have everything covered, bring a bottle of wine, small appetizer, SOMEthing.
• Try not to be late, but even more importantly - do NOT be early. Your host wants you to be under the impression that this dinner party they’re throwing is completely effortless, that they’re house stays immaculate, and that they’ve been running around town all day in their perfectly pressed attire while still managing to have a full course meal ready to go. Don’t burst they’re bubble by arriving early to find them vacuuming the floors in their towel (after just getting out of the shower) with curlers in their hair. Now that’s just plain rude.
• Don’t be awkward. A host can sense when you’re uncomfortable, and that will make THEM uncomfortable. This typically results in an awkward ambiance and a wasted night when you could have been home, in a Snuggie, and watching the newest episode of Extreme Make-Over: Weight Loss Edition.
• Make yourself at home…to a degree. Just because you do things a certain way in the privacy of your own home doesn’t mean it will translate well in a dinner party setting. Ex: Don’t kick your shoes off and walk around in your dirty, holey socks. Keep all audible bodily functions to a minimum (if not nonexistent). Treat furniture, glass ware, etc. better than your own. There are a million other examples, but I think you get the idea. I’m definitely not saying don’t let loose a little and have some fun – just be you…but the best you.
• Dress up a little. Feel free to leave the tuxedos and gowns at home, but leave the sweatpants and gym shorts (or really anything with elastic) at home, too. You’re not going clubbing either, so stay away from stilettos and bar make-up (for women, obviously) Dress conservatively and appropriately, and maybe something with a little breathing room – especially if the chef is a good cook!
• Take a hint. When your host starts yawning and saying things like, “Ugh! I have to get up so early tomorrow” or starts cleaning up the house and getting into pajamas, generally that means that the night has ended, and you need to leave. Dishes are different. If your host start washing dishes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re ready for you to go home. They may be (hopefully) just clearing some room for dessert!
• Compliment the food, and DO NOT say you don’t like something. If it’s something you love, tell them! Cooks love to hear that their guests enjoy what they have put effort, time, and money into preparing. However, if you dislike something, simply push it to the side of your plate. If asked, honestly state that you don’t care for the food in question. Please don’t draw attention the fact that you don’t like something served by being dramatic and whining about how you don’t like it as you fork it to the side of your plate.
• If you followed step one and brought something, please don’t take the leftover home with you. A perfect example is wine. If you bring a bottle and there is some left over (really, my first thought is WHY would you ever have wine left over??) please do not grab it out of the refrigerator and bring it home with you when you go to leave. They had you over – let them keep the wine, please!
• Send a follow-up thank you letter (typically just after the first time someone has you over). The first one I received blew me away. I was so impressed, and it made such a good impression. I’m not talking about anything fancy. You can just thank them for having you over for (fill in the blank). Let them know that you had a great time, and that you look forward to having them over the next time.
I plan on posting more entries on this topic since hosting parties is one of my favorite things to do. Stay tuned!