Dining Etiquette – How to be a Hospitable Host
Here are some dining etiquette tips to navigate host duties with ease and finesse.
Dining Etiquette As a Host at Home
• Let guests know what time to arrive, and at what time the meal will be served.
• Ask if there are food allergies or restrictions, but do not discuss the menu with guests.
• If your event is formal, invitations are in writing, and your guests will arrive 5 to 10 minutes before the appointed hour.
• Practice good time management. Be as prepared as possible for your guests’ arrival.
• Ensure that all guests are introduced.
• It is okay to give your guests tasks, as this allows you to spend more time with them.
• Consider seating plans. Usually partners are separated to allow for more conversation. You and your co-host are typically seated at each end of the table, and the guest of honour is seated to the right of the host.
• If your event is formal, as the host you would offer your arm to the guest of honour and lead the guests into the dining room.
• Ensure that the conversation runs smoothly, and steer it to neutral topics should it become heated by a controversial discussion.
• If a guest presents you with wine or food, this is a gift to you. It is understood that you have already provided for the meal.
• To ask if your guests would like more of a dish, ask “Would you like some….”, rather than “Would you like some more…”.
• Never allow a guest to drive home if you have a concern about alcohol consumption.
Dining Etiquette As a Host at a Restaurant or Club:
• Select a restaurant close to your guest’s home or office.
• Ask what type of food he/she prefers.
• Reconfirm with your guest the morning of the date.
• Arrive 10 minutes prior to the arranged time. Wait for your guest at a clean table; do not touch the water, napkin, or order a drink.
• Stand as your guest is shown to the table, and greet them.
• Offer your guest the best seat.
• Offer your guest the opportunity to order a drink.
• Whether your guest drinks an alcoholic drink or not, you order what you want. Limit your consumption to one cocktail or two glasses of wine.
• Give your guest the freedom to choose what they wish from the menu, subtly letting them know they can choose the number of courses that they wish. For example you may say, “The _______ appetizer is very good.”, and ask, “What would you like for dessert?”
• As the host, it is your responsibility to take care of your guest’s needs; it should be clear to the servers that you are the host.
• If your guest’s order arrives first, ask her/him to begin. If your order arrives first, wait for your guest’s.
• If you have an issue with the restaurant, take it up privately with the manager, rather than in front of your guest.
• At a business breakfast or lunch, let at least 10 minutes lapse before business is discussed. At a business dinner, you may wait until the coffee stage.
Karen Brunger is a Certified Image Professional, and President of International Image Institute Inc.