Know the “Rules”

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An entertaining evening will go by with less stress if you know the “rules’ of modern dinner party etiquette.

Manners and etiquette at a dinner party go both ways. It’s a given that the guests should be up-to-date on proper etiquette and behavior, but the hosts should be aware of etiquette as well.
Welcome to our home
Don’t think that because you’re slaving away in the kitchen that you should leave the welcome to your spouse or partner. This is especially ineffective if you live alone with no significant other. The bottom line is that you should be at the door when each guest arrives. If that isn’t possible and someone else answers, make sure you greet each guest personally as soon as possible.
The menu
When you invite people to your home for a dinner party, it helps if you serve a menu that your guests can actually eat. How do you find that out? Ask. Calling to invite your guests? Ask on the phone if they are allergic to any types of food — particularly if you haven’t hosted or cooked for the person before.
Build in a buffer
Not everyone is punctual, and as a host, there is nothing you can do about that. To get around this situation, schedule the meal for a half hour or an hour after the arrival time. That will give some wiggle room for the later guests.
However, if you feel like delaying your dinner a bit to wait for the latecomers, only delay it by 15 minutes. Any more than that and the food may start to spoil or burn, and it is inconsiderate to the guests who were there on time.
And, if you did go ahead and serve the meal and while you and your guests are chewing away, the pokey guests arrive, by all means invite them in and sit them at the table. They can start at whatever part of the meal you are serving at that time — don’t go into rewind just because they show up.
The other side
Okay, you are the guest. Do your host a favor and arrive on time. If you can’t arrive on time, call ahead and let them know. And, don’t request that they hold up dinner for you.
Though not required, it is a good idea to bring the host or hostess a gift. If it is a food item or something like a bottle of wine, stress that it is for them to enjoy at a later date. Then they won’t feel obligated to serve it with their food.
‘I have to take this call’
No, you don’t. Your smart phone is not a human being and you don’t have to interact with it while you are a guest in someone’s home for dinner. Turn off your phone, and absolutely do not pull it out to surf the web or text someone. It can wait.
Dig in
Wait until everyone is served before starting to eat your food. If your host says to go ahead and start eating, you can do so.
Those hosting dinner have rules to follow, as do the guests. Either way, it makes a dinner party a pleasant experience for all.
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