A dinner invitation is an opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal, socialize, and reunite with loved ones. Seating etiquette and table manners – how to sit and conduct ourselves at a dining table – are crucial in ensuring that a meal starts on the right foot.
As a guest, you can honor the host by showing up as the best possible version of yourself. A lighthearted attitude and proper grooming are essential qualities in a kind guest. Taking care of your hygiene and appearance in light of an event can rejuvenate you, boost your confidence, and help you linger in the present moment for a little longer.
The invitation dictates the gathering’s arrival time. My rule of thumb is never to arrive earlier and never to be late for more than fifteen minutes. Cocktails give the latecomers time to catch up on the dinner. It also offers guests the opportunity to socialize and greet each other.
At the venue’s entrance, the guests are directed to their table and get a card with a number, characteristic color, or design that indicates their seat.
At smaller events or closed dinners, the guests’ seating arrangements can be determined by name cards or, on the spot, by the host.
While notifying the host if you will be attending their gathering, informing them of any severe food allergies would be wise.
When the food is ready to be served, the guests should move toward the dining area and stand behind their assigned chairs.
The hostess is the first to be seated at a formal dinner.
If there is more than one host, they sit opposite each other at the head or middle of the table.
If the dinner is professional, the guests do not need to wait and can take their seats immediately.
When calculating your ideal distance from the table while seated, remember that your forearms should remain in line with the table when you bend your elbows.
Remember to keep your back straight and your elbows as close to your torso as possible.
When you are not eating, rest your wrists gently on the table’s edge or your lap.
- The gentlemen should pull the chair of the lady sitting on their right, and, if necessary, they should also accommodate the lady on their left.
- We talk to the guests sitting on your right and left and never exclude one of the two.
- During dinner, remember to sit upright. Although tempting, do not pull your chair back to sit more relaxed.
- If appetizers or salads are in the center of the table, offer to serve your fellow guests first.
- The same goes for salt and pepper, which you should move and offer only when requested. In this case, carry them both. Leave the salt and pepper as close as possible to the person who asked for them. It is best not to place them in the guest’s palms.
- Taste your food first and, if necessary, add salt or pepper.
- Please never change your assigned seat, even if you are not close to the guests sitting next to you. It is disrespectful toward the host and puts them in a difficult position.
- Try not to rest your elbows on the table surface.
- Do not place personal items such as phones, bags, medicine, or makeup items on the table.
- Do not start eating unless at least three people have been served. At formal events, wait until everyone at the table has been served.
- Do not talk while chewing. If necessary, cover your mouth with the palm of your hand or the napkin.
- Do not eat off of other peoples’ plates.
- Do not smoke at the table. Kindly smoke only after the meal ends if the hosts permit it. If smoking is not allowed, swiftly relocate to an outdoor or designated area.
- Do not ask to bring your leftovers home.
- Avoid political, religious, or other personal conversation topics.
- Avoid talking too much about yourself. Instead, try to learn more about your fellow guests.
- The ceremonial public meal known as the “Royal Table” was a ritual that dates back to Middle Ages. According to the Court of Versaille’s etiquette, a king would invite the queen, his children, and his grandchildren to dine with him. During “private” meals, however, he ate alone.
- The Royal table was set up only for special occasions and on Sundays. After the table was laid and the king’s chair was put in place, dinner at the Royal Table was held at 10 pm. Folding stools were placed at the end of the table for the guests.
- Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette later introduced “societal meals” to which 40 or so worthy guests were invited. At these dinners, one would see the finest porcelain tableware from Sèvres, alternating with silver tableware.