Dinner Party Etiquette

Dinner Party

Having your own private dinner party?

  1. Invitations - they can be written, phone or emailed (only for the informal get-togethers!) or in person. If you are the guest, you must RSVP.
  2. Greet your guests as they come to the door. Have a place for their personal items. Introduce people. Accept hostess gifts graciously. If you are the guest, please try to bring a hostess gift that is small and one which the hostess will not feel the need to use that night (i.e. dessert or flowers). A well prepared hostess will already have the table decorated and dessert planned, so it would be difficult and awkward for her to try and work in a gift like this.
  3. Offer guests beverages and hors de oeuvres.
  4. During hors de'oeuvres, slip out to the kitchen quickly to get the first course on the table before the guests are asked to take their seats. Unless that first course is hot, then you would wait until the guests are seated.
  5. Call guests to the table and direct them to where you want them to sit, even with placards there can be some uncomfortable moments.
  6. Follow an etiquette book as far as setting the table. Many things have changed in recent years and all the pieces that were used before aren't necessary, and some utensils are placed in different locations. A guest should never have to move a utensil to get to his/her napkin.
  7. Untensils should be used from the outside inwards. A used utensil should never be placed back onto the table cloth - rest it against or on the side of the plate. Napkins should never be place on the table until the meal is over. If you must excuse yourself, place it the napkin on your seat; placed back on your lap when you return.
  8. After each course, remove the plate and utensils used.
  9. After the main entree, remove all plates, used utensils, salt and pepper, butter, dressing, and so on. The dessert fork and spoon are usually place at the top of the plate. They would remain on the table until dessert is served.
  10. Serve dessert and coffee cups. Place sugar and creamer on the table.
  11. After dessert, you do not need to remove the dessert dishes, unless they will be seen from the living room or family room for the rest of the evening.
  12. Hors de'oeuvres and cocktail glasses should be clear.
  13. Games and converstion are both acceptable during this time (see Victorian Parlour Games for some fun ideas).
  14. When guests leave, walk them to the door, say a brief good-bye and return to the other guests. If you are the guest, do not engage the host in a long conversation at the door.
  15. What do we do with the children???
    1. You can feed your children early and let them greet guests and serve hors de oeuvres; then quietly slip off to watch some TV and go to sleep (you may wish to have a baby sitter help facilitate this.)
    2. You can order pizza and cokes for teenagers and then let them eat and watch a parent-approved movie in a rec-room or family room away from the dining area.

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