Conscious & Bold 004: Dinner Party Etiquette - Sophie Williamson Design

Conscious & Bold 004: Dinner Party Etiquette

Or how to be a great guest at a dinner party (IMHO)

TLDR; how being a great guest means being interested, bringing a not-annoying-the-host gift, avoid making food an issue and arriving (and leaving) at the right time. Oh, and saying thank you afterwards.


Sophie Williamson Design founder Sophie talking to a friend.

Getting to know the other guests at a dinner party is an essential part of being a great guest.

Let's discuss something fun: Dinner Party Etiquette. Or as I like to call it, "How to be the best guest who is invited to every dinner party because they're so cool". Hey, I'm German, I can't help being too wordy (every read Thomas Mann?)!

You see, being a guest at a dinner party is not just about shovelling food into your mouth - if done right, a dinner party is a sophisticated social experience (ok, ChatGPD, I see you lol) that can create memories for the rest of your life.

I won't mention the obvious here like dressing for the occasion (I'll just assume you'd leave the crocs at home) or having good table manners (please don't start to eat until the host starts, and don't start getting a second helping before anyone else; you're not a starving orphan in 1890s Britain). No, I'd like to give you some of my favourite ways of being a great guest, and showing the hosts that you appreciate their efforts.

My main pet peeve? Not making to effort of getting to know the other guests. Greet people and introduce yourself. Ask questions. Be interested. Don't forget who your dinner partner is (to the right for men, to the left for women) and chat with them first. Do not turn your back on someone, and never make them feel like they're not interesting (or that someone else is more important, interesting, etc). Ask questions (yes, I'm repeating myself but OH MY GOD why are people always talking about themselves? And don't ever ask any questions?).

Bringing a present to a dinner party should be useful not annoying: tray with floral napkins and a vase with flowers, held by Sophie Williamson Design founder Sophie.

Bring a considerate host gift, not something that might add to the stress of organising the evening.

Next, be a guest that doesn't create more stress for the host. Do not bring flowers except if they're already in a vase. If you like to show appreciation with flowers, send them the next day. Don't bring a bottle of champagne that isn't chilled. Or yet another bottle of wine. I personally love to bring our Floral Notecards as they're like a bouquet of flowers but in card form.

Then, of course, help. Collect plates once done. Offer to light candles. Bring food to the table. Or don't do any of this - if the host has full help and it's clear you'd only be in the way!

Now to the food: if you have certain allergies, please let the host know before. But I'm not talking about a full list of things you're sensitive to. And please don't talk about that at the dinner table. Nobody is interested, apart from you and your doctor (trust me). If there is something you don't like, don't want to or can not eat, simply don't serve yourself with it, or leave it on the plate. Everything is better than a full on discussion of sensitivities or how your veganism is saving the world. I've sat through too many dinners where this became the centre of discussion and people tried to up on another with their stories. NOPE. Not a good guest. Sorry.

Last but not least, let's talk about timing. Please don't arrive before the time on the invitation. Depending on the country you're in, anything between 5 to 60 minutes after that time is acceptable (or even demanded) to arrive. Also, don't leave immediately after you've eaten, this is not McDonalds. Don't overstay your welcome either (is the host starting to clean up? Please make your way home). And don't forget to send a thank you note, message or even make a phone call the next day.

Is your head spinning from all my German sternness? Don't worry, the most important part of being a good guest is still to just have fun! Enjoy yourself - that's the best way to appreciate your hosts and their efforts.

Do you have any other ways of being a great guest? Let me know in the comments!

Stay Conscious & Bold - Sophie
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