The Ultimate Guide to Classy Dinner Party Etiquette
‘Tis the season of dinner parties and family get togethers, cocktail hours and festive nights out. With the busyness of the season and stress from holiday shopping and travel plans, how to properly behave at a get together is probably not on the forefront of your brain. But, there’s no need to worry if you’re concerned about that classy affair you may have coming up, or if you just want to impress your family or friends this Christmas. As a cotillion alumna and a debutante of National Charity League, I’ve had my fair share of learning proper manners for the fanciest of occasions. Below is a collection of some etiquette tips that I’ve learned throughout my cotillion years.
#1 You may begin eating if there are more than 8 people at the table.
Contrary to the popular belief that you must wait for everyone to get their food before you can start eating, if you are dining with a party of 8 or more you are allowed to start your meal. Why, you ask? Because wait staff normally cannot bring more than 8 plates simultaneously. So, to avoid eating cold food, apply this rule next time!
#2 Set your fork and knife parallel on your plate to signal you are finished eating.
This one is self explanatory. There’s much talk about how to signal you are done eating. Rather than placing your dirty napkin atop your plate, set your fork and knife parallel to each other to let the wait staff, and/or others, know that you are finished with your meal. No crossing of your utensils, no napkin on the table.
#3 There’s no such thing as Fashionably Early.
Although you may think that it is considerate to arrive to the party early, it’s not. Arriving before the specified time is not appropriate. It takes time away from the host, and can cause extra stress. The person throwing party suggests a start time for a reason, so by showing up before that time, you are essentially ignoring the invitation. When arriving to a dinner party, arrive within 10 minutes of the start time. For cocktail parties, arriving a little later is okay!
#4 Refrain from arriving empty handed.
Don’t be that person who shows up empty handed. Regardless of whether or not you think it is necessary, bringing along a small host or hostess gift (whether it be an arrangement of flowers, bottle of wine, a candle, etc.) is always a good idea. Everyone likes to receive gifts, and arriving to a party with a token of appreciation will earn you some serious brownie points amongst your friends and family.
#5 Leave a bite of food on your plate.
When at a dinner party, there is a fine line between how you should and shouldn’t leave your plate. While it is okay to consume all of the food on your plate (that’s what dinner is for, right?), be sure to not leave your plate looking as though you have been starving for months.
#6 Properly set your table.
Now if the tables are turned and you are the one throwing the party this time, make sure that your table settings are properly arranged. If your Grandma never taught you how to set a table, there’s a plethora of diagrams online to show you exactly how to do it. And if you don’t gather anything, just remember- forks on the left, knives on the right!
#7 Put your phone away.
No matter how attached you are to your phone, no matter who is texting you or whatever urgent snapchats that must be responded to, having your phone out during dinner is simply not appropriate. Keep your technology in your pocket and just enjoy the company around you!