How To's

Holiday Entertaining: Guest Etiquette

The holidays are almost here again and there’s a good chance that you’ll be attending an event or two this season. Maybe you’re having dinner with the Queen or Martha Stewart!  Perhaps your new in-laws invited you to their home for a holiday party or maybe you’re just having some quiet, relaxing evenings in with your cats. Whatever the case, it is always good to have proper manners and etiquette and for this reason I am sharing some simple do’s and don’ts that just may save you some embarrassment this Christmas.

NOTE: If you ARE having dinner with the queen, these tips probably won’t help you much. Take a class. Immediately. I hear the queen is a bit of a stickler for manners. Also, there will probably be a lot of flatware to contend with which I will not cover in detail in this post.

  • DON’T be late. Contrary to popular belief “fashionably late” is not really fashionable at all. It’s rude.
  • DO remove your hat once you have entered an establishment or household. Unless you’re Santa.
  • DO prepare for the possibility that the host/hostess may ask you to remove your footwear.
  • DO bring a small gift for the host/hostess; it doesn’t have to be much! If you happen to bring a bottle of wine (a popular gift) let the hostess know that the wine is for her to enjoy later as she may have chosen specific wine pairings for the dinner.
  • DO help to introduce people that are unfamiliar with each other. This would generally be the job of the host/hostess but if you’re in a conversation with people that don’t know each other, introduce them.
  • DON’T hover by the food. Although it is very tempting to scope out your next snack, it is the people at the party that should be your main focus.
  • DO wait for the host/hostess to indicate where they would like you to sit if no place cards have been set at the table. A more casual dinner may not have seating arrangements but it’s still good to ask.
  • DON’T tuck your napkin into your shirt or pants. Instead, unfold it and place it in your lap.
  • DON’T freak out if the table is full of utensils and you have no idea what they’re for. If your setting has more than one fork and/or knife and/or spoon, lucky you! You have been invited to a nice dinner. When it comes to cutlery placement, you simply work your way from the outside in.
  • DO wait for the host or hostess to pick up his or her fork before starting to eat unless they insist that you start without them.
  • DO taste the food before seasoning it. Your host went through a lot of trouble to prepare the meal so give it a chance!
  • DON’T place a dirty utensil directly on the table, instead lean it on the edge of your plate if you need to put it down.
  • DON’T reach across the table to grab something. Instead, politely ask for it to be passed to you.
  • DO transfer butter, spreads or dips to your plate before eating and remember that double dipping is never ok. However tempting it may be. Nobody wants your germs.
  • DO be gracious and at least attempt to eat the food if it isn’t to your liking. Not everyone is an Iron Chef.
  • DON’T answer a phone call or text at the table.
  • DO cut your meat into small, bite sized pieces, not giant slabs that you may choke on. That would be embarrassing.
  • DON’T ever, EVER talk with your mouth full or make nasty chewing and slurping noises. This may get you uninvited from the next dinner party.
  • DON’T drink too much, even if it is a casual dinner. This may also get you uninvited. Trust me.
  • DO excuse yourself from the table and go to the washroom if you need to pick your teeth or apply makeup.
  • DO write a thank you note to the host.

Do you have any valuable tips for being a well-mannered guest?

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