Dining Etiquette for Private Parties
If you’ve been invited to an evening of dining at a private dinner party with promises of good conversation, good food and a whole lot of formalities then yes, yes you should have come to this page to learn more and get better.
The thing about private and formal dinner parties is either you love them or hate them, there is no in between. If you want to make private dinner parties happen in your life then you’re going to want to follow the rules that go with them and we’re here to help you make sure your first fete won’t be your last.
Now, there can be any number of variations when it comes to small formal affairs but we’ve selected a best attack plan that will guide you through most intimate dinners – unless you’re in the Amazon Jungle getting ready for dinner with the tribe chief – then you’re on your own. Sorry.
You must buy your host a gift. If you know your host well then it’s always worth it to go the extra mile and make it personal. However, if you aren’t very familiar with your host do not fret; you can’t go wrong with a beautiful bottle of wine (emphasis on beautiful and de-emphasis on screw tops).
You ring or knock the giant brass knuckle and are greeted by someone unfamiliar, don’t panic, this unfamiliar person will likely take your coat for safekeeping. Just look past the shoulder of the unfamiliar person and your host should be waiting to greet you.
Greet according to your country’s custom or your host’s custom which could be a handshake, double-cheek kiss or a simple “hello, how do you do.”
You will move into the formal gathering area for cocktails and chit-chat with your fellow diners. Shortly after, guests will be invited to the dining room.
If there are place cards set out on the table then sit accordingly, otherwise you can wait for the host/hostess to signal where you should be sitting. The guest(s) of honor will be seated to the right of the hosts. The female guest of honor should be served first and then the service will go around the table until it returns to the hosts.
Men should pull out the chair for the lady designated to sit on their right-hand side, but should not seat themselves until the lady of the house is seated. The man sitting on the left of the lady of the house should be the one to seat her.
Each setting should have a charger plate on it at all times. The first course will be served in a separate dish and placed on the charger plate. The soup course requires the soup dish to be placed on the charger and then both are removed at the same time and replace by the main course plate.
Your plates should be served to you from your left side and will be picked up you’re your right so be aware of your movements. If crumbs need to be eliminated from the table, it will be done quietly and discreetly.
When beginning your dining experience remember you’re going to be eating from the outside in when it comes to your cutlery. So when partaking in the first course you’re going to want to start with the outside fork and then work your way inward for subsequent courses.
The fanciest of fancy dinners will have a six-course meal. The courses will include the following: Shellfish or Soup, Fish, Main Course, Salad, Dessert.
Your water glass will be filled shortly after it begins to run low, you should never have to ask for it. Speaking of glasses, hold your wine glass by the stem.
Your dessert will come in a bowl sitting on a plate or a plate with the knife and fork on it. If fresh fruit is part of the meal, it will be served shortly after the dessert.
Some party hosts will provide finger bowls. The finger bowls will be brought on a plate and set down after the last course. Once you are finished you should dip your fingers in the finger bowl and wipe them.
Part of a lovely dining experience is the conversation that comes with. Sure you can have delicious food, but if the conversation is sour, this will upset the mood of things. If you’re the guy with the sour conversation, say goodbye to private dinners because no one will want to partake in sour conversation again.
Stick to general conversation topics and stay away from topics like religion and politics. Essentially if you show up dressed well, feeling pleasant and have a lovely smile on your face you’re going to be just fine.
Take these handy tips into consideration and you’ll knock the whole thing out of the park (or right past the butler anyways).