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Dinner Etiquette

Quick Tips on Dinner Etiquette

Sometimes it’s good to know proper dinner etiquette, especially when you are invited to a formal event. Many of the dinner etiquette practices are also just common rules of politeness when eating with others, whether in public or private settings.

There are also a few things to do to show good manners before the dinner itself. One of these is to respond to a dinner invitation in a timely manner, usually not more than a week after receiving it. Dress nicely. Always dress appropriately for the type of dinner you are attending. Whether this is formal attire, semi-formal, or casual, don’t dress in such a way that you will look completely out of place, and never disregard any dress code that is recommended.

Another part of dinner etiquette involves getting to the dinner on time. Up to ten minutes late is okay but never more than that. If your invitation did not include the words “and guest,” be sure to contact the host well before the dinner to see if it is going to be permissible to bring a guest. It is also a part of dinner etiquette to bring along a gift for the host and/or hostess. This is where the traditional bottle of wine or champagne comes into play, but it is also appropriate to bring flowers or chocolates.

Once everyone is seated at the dinner table, there are more specific rules to follow. Unfold the napkin and make use of it throughout the meal to wipe your fingers and lips. Be sure to hold your silverware properly--if this is something you are unsure about, ask someone to show you how to do it correctly before the day of the dinner. The fork and knife are placed on the sides of your plate while you are eating, and then left in the center of the plate when you are finished.

At a formal dinner, the ladies are served first, beginning with the person seated to the right of the host and then moving around the table clockwise. The men are served last. Men are also expected to be polite when a woman rises to leave the room, by standing when she gets up from the table and when she returns to it.

If you don’t like the food being served, you should still be polite and try to eat at least some portion of it. You can also cut it up and move it around without it being too conspicuous if you are unhappy with the offerings. If you enjoy your meal but are simply not able to eat all of it, it is not improper dinner etiquette to leave a small amount on the side of your plate.

Dinner etiquette also includes some things that should be practiced at every meal. For instance, don’t make noises while you eat, such as slurping. When passing a dish, do not reach across the table but pass it down to someone closer to the person who wants it. It is bad manners to talk with your mouth full or to simply talk too much. Dinner etiquette also mandates that you not drink too much alcohol. You do not want to embarrass yourself or the host. Make an effort to carry on conversations with those seated near you. And finally, don’t forget to thank the host and/or hostess for inviting you. A formal dinner requires that you send a written thank you note.




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