Essential Dinner Party Etiquette

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Everyone loves good company, everyone loves good food, and when you combine them, it’s something magical. Whether you’ve decided dinner parties are part of the maturing process, or you’re looking to get back in touch with your dinner party-going persona, there are a few fundamental considerations to ensure you’re the guest everyone’s vying to invite. By Tony Logan


The Art of Accepting

As guests, we have lost our way, and quite frankly it’s embarrassing. Growing up, receiving mail was exciting – it was special, it was personal, and it spelled all manner of adventures in the foreseeable future. For me, whenever I received an invitation, I couldn’t wait to drop it back in the mail to account for my party bag and piece of cake. Now, in my thirties, half of the invitations I receive via text or Facebook go ignored until I decide at the last minute to show up, effectively unannounced. Unfortunately, dinner parties do not carry that same flexibility; no one invites the masses to a dinner party, it’s just not that kind of gig, and inherently your host is undertaking a lot of effort to entertain you and a clutch of other selected souls, so once you receive your dinner party invite, be sure to save the date.


Once you’ve received your invitation, contact the host to let them know you received it. If you’re still on the fence or have a schedule conflict with the date, you can tell them at a later date but the goal here is to let the host know you received their invite. The next step is pulling the trigger – dinner parties aren’t pot luck (typically) and you host won’t be in the mood to simply throw together another plate for guests who didn’t advise their attendance. Be courteous, be respectful of your host’s time and effort, and let them know if you’re attending as early as possible - there is nothing worse than showing up for a party or event where you aren’t accounted for because you assumed it would all be fine on the night.


Lastly, when you have confirmed that you’re attending, it’s always a good gesture as a guest to offer to bring either a dish, a desert, or a bottle for everyone to enjoy for the night. If you opt for bringing a bottle (which requires no preparation at all) the least you can do is bring something that’s top shelf. Remember this is a dinner party, not a college kickback, so put both thought and cash into your purchase because you will absolutely be judged on your vino choices.


‘Fashionably Late’ Means on Time

Running late across all cultures is a sign of disrespect and is perceived as a lack of priority. However, dinner parties are a little different and here’s why. For most dinner parties, aside from the food prep, generally getting the home ready for public consumption is a huge task. From running last-minute errands and creating a groovy playlist to setting the table, it’s very easy for the host to run over the agreed time. Therefore, as a guest, keep in mind the 15-minute rule. If the invitation is for 7pm, arrive no later than 7:25, and no earlier than 7:10. This rule builds in time for the host to get ready properly and to make last minute adjustments if necessary. For once, this is when it’s acceptable to be late, and you should take full advantage of the wiggle room.  


Keep the Social off the Social

Today it’s almost common courtesy to Instagram every event we deem worthy of our time. You got tickets to that sold out concert? Post it! Vacationing at the tropics this weekend? Snap, it! We live in a world driven by documenting every moment for others to envy. However, with intimate events such as dinner parties, it should really be off limits. The whole premise of a dinner party is a chance for you to tune out the world and be present with curated company over appetizing food and fancy silverware. Although it’s tempting to capture the perfect food selfie from your three-course meal, please disregard the idea ss it’s not proper dinner etiquette and can potentially kill the whole vibe at the table. After dinner or before everyone’s departure I’m sure there will be allocated time for a group selfie or a couple’s photo to celebrate the night, but until this has been announced, try to keep your phone out of sight and out of mind. 


So, there you have it, everything you need to know to fully enjoy the dinner party experience. Oh, and remember to always use utensils when necessary, pay compliments to the chef once the table is cleared and if you have to leave before the night is over, to always follow up with a thank you call the next day. If you follow these rules your inbox will be so filled with dinner party invitations, you’ll never have to go grocery shopping again.


Society, How ToFred Kirby