Now that we’re grown up, Friday night parties are generally more likely to be dinner parties than keg parties. Although there may have been a time or place for beer pong, those days are probably over.
Required etiquette for a dinner party is much like the manners you practice when eating out. Some of the major differences are when to eat and bringing a gift.
At a dinner party, you should never begin eating until the hostess (or host, if there is no hostess) picks up her fork. If she insists that you begin eating without her, it’s ok to do so. You’ll also want to bring a gift for the hostess, but, even though television programs show the hostess being presented with flowers or a bottle of wine, these are actually not appropriate hostess gifts. Don’t bring anything that the hostess will feel obligated to use right away. She has probably already planned the décor and wine list. Bring a gift that she can use at a later time.
If you are hosting a party, you’ll need to follow some basic rules as well. First, be sure to send each invitee an invitation that lists the date, time and location of the party, as well as the reason for the party and the expected dress code. You may also want to include a menu if you know that some of your guests have restricted diets. Feel free to ask invitees to RSVP so that you know who will be coming.
Remember to greet each guest as they arrive. Take their coats and purses and put them somewhere you have designated in advance. Spend a moment welcoming each guest and introduce them to one or more other guests that you think they have something in common with. Many times, you will be the only person that your guest knows at the party. It’s your job to make them feel welcome and ease them into the mix.
During the party, make sure that all guests are occupied. Again, you’ve invited this particular group for a reason. It’s your job to make sure that they are all comfortable and engaged. There will be the occasional uninvited guest or guest that didn’t RSVP but comes anyway and brings a friend. You’ll need to be graceful in accommodating the stray guest, but do address the situation with the non-RSVP-er a few days later… gently.
As each guest leaves, you’ll need to share a few moments with each of them. As you help them retrieve their coats and purses, thank them for coming and walk them to the door. Make sure that you make arrangements for anyone who has had too much to drink.
Almost every party has a guest that just doesn’t seem to want to leave. Offering everyone coffee is usually a sign that the party is winding down, but if you’re confronted with what to do when a guest lingers past the time when everyone else has long gone home, there are a few things you can do to help them have a clue.
• Blow out any candles
• Turn off the music
• Ask them if they would like you to package up any food for them to take home
• Gather their coats and bags
Although these tactics usually work, you may need to take a more direct approach. It’s ok to tell your wayward guest that it’s been a long day and you have a lot to do. Then offer to walk him/her to his/her car. Be gracious and say a warm good night.
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