|Festive settings make for more memorable meals!|
If invited to a formal dinner, or even informal for that matter, please be polite and follow whatever dress code is requested on the invitation, or suggested by the host or hostess. If the invitation reads, "Black Tie," or "Festive Attire," you should know what you are expected to wear. If there is any question in your mind, call and ask. That is a perfect opportunity for you to respond to the "Rsvp" request!
Never request to a host or hostess that special foods be served to you, unless you are asked about dietary needs. It is never polite to inquire about the planned menu. If you do not care for something served to you at the dinner party, simply do not eat it.
Never bring an extra guest to a dinner party unless you are invited to do so.
Arrive promptly, if not at least 10 minutes early to a formal dinner party. It is extremely poor manners to arrive late. A host or hostess is obliged by good etiquette to only hold dinner for 15 minutes while awaiting an expected guest.
It is proper, not to mention thoughtful, to bring a small host or hostess gift to a formal dinner party. A host or hostess is not obliged to use your gift that evening, so please do not be disappointed if a host does not. One must not never expect a gift to be served at the dinner party itself.
At a dinner party, wait for the host or hostess to sit down before taking your seat, unless the host and/or hostess asks you to do so prior to their being seated. Then do so.
At a very formal dinner party, name cards or place cards usually signify where you are to sit at the table. If there are no indications, wait until the host or hostess mentions where you should sit. The seating is usually a man, then a woman, then another man, then woman, and so on. Women generally are seated to the right of the men.
A prayer or blessing of the meal, may be customary in a household. Dinner guests may join in, or bow their heads and be respectfully silent. Most prayers are made by the host or hostess before the meal is eaten. If your neighboring fellow diners choose to hold hands during a blessing, please do so without comment, sighs of disapproval or complaint.
Sometimes a toast is offered instead of a prayer. Always join in with a toast. If the host stands up during the toast, and encourages others do the same, by all means stand up. Never drink if the toast is made in your honor. Simply raise your glass, smile and politely thank whomever made the toast.
Watch your host and hostess for cues and clues as to what flatware or glasses to use, if you are at all unsure of what to do.
Do not expect a dinner roll at a very formal dinner. Rolls have fallen in and out of favor over the years at dinner settings, however etiquette dictates that they are not required at very formal diners. If bread or rolls are served, regardless of how the host or hostess or other guests are eating and buttering theirs, butter and eat just one small piece at a time for yourself.
Any pits or bones that somehow manage to wind up in one's mouth, should be removed quietly and without comment, using fingers or a utensil. Place a bone or pit off to the side of your plate.
Cellphones or mobile phones have no business being out on the table, or ringing and buzzing throughout the meal either.
Napkins stay on one's lap throughout the meal, until everyone is leaving the table. If you are first to finish, do not put your napkin upon the table. Used napkins should be gently folded and set to the left of the place setting.
The serving, or offering, of tea or coffee signifies that the most formal part of the evening is over, but do stay a bit to finish visiting, if the host or hostess encourages you to do so.
After a dinner party, a handwritten note of thanks should be sent to the hostess, or host, as the case may be. Depending on how well you know your hosts, a telephone call is also acceptable in some circles.