Dining Etiquette – How to be a Gracious Guest


Dining Etiquette – How to be a Gracious Guest

Here are some tips in dining etiquette to navigate guest duties with ease and finesse.


Dining Etiquette As a Guest in a Home

  • When you receive the invitation, respond as soon as possible.
  • Let your host know if you have food restrictions, but do not indicate likes and dislikes unless you are asked.
  • Your host will let you know what time to arrive; if there is some confusion, it is best to ask.  In North America, arrive at the time specified, or within 15 minutes, but not earlier.
  • Be dressed according to the occasion.
  • Bring a gift with you to present to your host: a bottle of wine, flowers in a vase, etc.  If you bring wine or food, this is a gift to them and is not meant to be served with the meal.  Flowers may be delivered in advance.
  • If the dinner is ‘potluck’, your contribution is your gift, and no other is necessary.
  • If you must be late, call to advise, and insist that the dinner be served on time; when you arrive accept the current course being served.
  • Offer to assist your host whenever possible.
  • Do not ask for more of a dish; rather, say “that was delicious”.
  • If you are the recipient of a toast, do not toast yourself.  Say “thank you for the honour”.
  • Remain about two hours after dinner is finished, unless something else was suggested in the invitation.  If you leave within that time, it feels like “eat and run” and is not respectful to the hosts.  If you stay later, you may “wear out your welcome”.
  • If there is a guest of honour, they are the first to depart.
  • On leaving, thank the host/s.
  • Follow-up with a thank you note.

 Dining Etiquette As a Guest at a Restaurant

  • If you arrive first, go to the table, but touch nothing.
  • If you are invited to have an alcoholic drink, and you wish it, go ahead.  Limit your intake to one cocktail or two glasses of wine.
  • Order from the mid-priced items on the menu.
  • Thank your host for the lunch.
  • Follow-up with a thank you note.


You may be interested in our article on How to be a Hospitable Host.


Karen Brunger is author of ‘Are You Minding Your Manners – New Etiquette for a New Age’, a Certified Image Professional and President of International Image Institute Inc.

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1 Comment

  1. Eve Mitchell on November 8, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    Thanks for the tip about making sure that you arrive on time. My husband and I want to go to a restaurant with our family to have dinner together. I think it’ll be good to have a place for all of us to get together and eat.

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