The days of formal dinnertime etiquette are gone, but there are some general tips that guests should follow when attending a dinner party. To highlight today’s modern etiquette, Just Charger Plates offers helpful tips for guests.
- Basic Rules – There are still basic rules that guests should follow, which includes not eating until everyone is served, always asking for someone to pass food instead of impolitely reaching over guests, informing hosts in advance about food allergies, trying everything on the plate to be polite, saying “thank you” and “please” while avoiding speaking with a full mouth and waiting to depart the dinner table until everyone is finished eating. Always compliment hosts, even if the dinner party does mimic a blue soup disaster straight out of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
- Table Settings – The main requirements are a salad fork, dinner fork, soupspoon, table knife and a dessertspoon. Wineglasses with or without stems are acceptable and water glasses are less formal than ever, as mason jars can easily serve as water-fueled vessels. Dining settings include charger plates, such as contemporary glass charger plates, formal beaded charger plates or even colorful red charger plates, dinner plates, salad plates and soup bowls. Dessert plates are optional, but salad plates can also serve in their place.
- Technology – To be polite, it’s important to silence phones at the dinner table. Hosts and guests want to feel as though they have undivided attention, which can be difficult with technology buzzing about. If guests are worried about children calling, etc., it’s important to explain why the telephone is on and that the only anticipation for answering calls is in the event of an emergency.
- Linens – Tablecloths and placements are perfect separate, but together can make a dinner table feel overly busy. Cloth napkins give any dinner an upscale, more elegant vibe, but paper napkins are always an acceptable alternative, especially for large dinner parties.
- Setting Tables – As tradition dictates, forks are located to the left of the charger or dinner plates, knives and spoons on the right hand side. Glassware is placed above the knife and spoons. As a general rule of thumb, first course silverware should be on the outside and as dinner progresses, main course silverware is located towards the inside.
- Meal – Family-style meals can include an array of serving dishes on the table, which are then passed around. If, however, there are some dishes, such as soups, that are more difficult to pass, it may be best to serve these to each individual guest. Large group dinners are best served buffet-style, as this allows for more mingling and less confusion.
- Centerpieces – Hosts should stick with flowers that are not overly fragrant and just a scattering of candles. To avoid clashing scents, opt for only using a single scent in the living area, such as warm vanilla.
- Offerings – Guests should always offer to help hosts clean and clear the table. Always thank hosts and it’s best to avoid overstaying welcomes.