Being invited to a formal or casual dinner party can be both exciting and nerve wrecking at once. It’s great to be going, but too often we are left to wonder what to do and what not to do once we have arrived. Most hosts and hostesses invite their friends and family to their homes in order to have a great time and enjoy good food and friendly fellowship together. Try not to get upset about the event and realize that you company is desired and your host or hostess is looking forward to spending a great evening together with you and a group of his or her close friends. Just in case you need a few refresher tips on what is expected during the evening, here are some general social and dining etiquette rules for dinner parties.
- Follow whatever dress code is suggested by your host or hostess on your invitation.
- Be punctual, ideally you should try to arrive at least 10 minutes before the announced start time. Make every effort not to arrive late.
- Come bearing gifts. It is polite to bring a token hostess gift. Try to avoid flowers, candy or any other food item that the host or hostess will feel obliged to share during the party. You should not expect your gift to be used or served during the dinner party.
- Follow the host or hostesses lead during the evening. During a formal dinner party there will normally be name cards and the seating will typically be a man then a woman alternately around the table. The women are generally seated to the right of the men and it is not uncommon for couples to be seated apart. If there are no cards, wait for the host or hostess to indicate where you are to sit.
- Some homes and families offer a prayer or blessing as their custom prior to each meal. As a dinner guest you should feel free to either join in the prayer or sit respectfully silent during their expression. If a toast is offered, you should join in. If the host or hostess stands then so should you.
- The serving of the tea or coffee will signify that the formal dinner has concluded. At this point you should feel free to either leave or mingle. Again, watch the host and hostess for clues about their expectations.
- Always remember to send a handwritten thank you note to the host or hostess after a formal dinner party.
Part of the great enjoyment of going to a dinner party is enjoying the great conversation and laughter with friends and acquaintances. Be yourself and do your part to make the evening one that all will remember for a long time.