Dinner-party etiquette, like most etiquette rules, is often lost or misunderstood.
Which – we think – is a shame, since it’s so vitally important to all involved. After all, no one wants to make a fool of themselves.
Dinner parties also aren’t just social occasions, as a boss or client may hold one unexpectedly and request your attendance on short notice.
Don’t panic – it’s a lot easier than it may seem to play the part.
Here are 10 things you must avoid doing if you’re going to any kind of dinner party:
Not responding to an invite until the last minute.
Not responding until the last minute says, “I was waiting for something better to come up, but since there isn’t anything, I guess I can go.”
Don’t send that message – if you’re not already busy, say yes immediately.
Showing up empty-handed.
- Oli Scarff / Getty Images
Even if nothing is said, it is expected when showing up to someone’s house for an event that you not come empty-handed.
A bottle of wine will almost certainly do the trick, no matter the occasion.
Showing up underdressed.
Don’t think that just because you’re among friends you can ignore the dress code. Show respect for the event’s hosts and look the part expected of you.
Failing to place your napkin in your lap.
- By pnoeric on Flickr
As soon as you sit down, your dinner napkin immediately goes on your lap.
It is to be used to clean your fingers and your mouth, but never your nose.
When finished, leave it on the table, to the left of your empty plate.
Not introducing any guests you brought to partygoers who may not know them.
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
If you’re bringing an unknown guest into the fold, you need to introduce them to all of your friends and acquaintances.
Not doing so will make everyone uncomfortable, and put the onus on either the guest to introduce themselves or the other party guests to go out of their way – either way can be an awkward situation.
Placing your phone on the table.
Even if it’s not your intent, a phone on the table sends a clear message: “Whatever call or text I’m waiting for is more important than giving you my undivided attention.”
If you don’t care to send that message, put your phone in your pocket.
Using the wrong utensils, cups, or plates.
Remember these rules when dining at a table, out or otherwise:
Utensils are used from the outside in.Your cups go on the right side. Your bread plate goes on your left side.
Sure, this may seem unfair to lefties – but these are just the rules. Otherwise, knowing which item is whose can get pretty confusing.
Gesticulating with cutlery in hand.
- Wikimedia Commons
Don’t jab a knife at someone just to get your point across.
Not only is it rude but, done wildly enough, it can even be dangerous.
Salting food before tasting it.
- Flickr/Charlotte Kinzie
When someone makes you food, you should assume that it tastes good – until proved otherwise.
So don’t assume it needs more salt than is already on or in it, no matter how much you love sodium. Taste it first.
Commenting on the food in anything but a positive way.
- via Food52
A dinner party is not the time for constructive criticism. If you like the food, great – give a good review from the bottom of your heart.
If not, say nothing more about it, eat as much as you can stomach, and politely wait for the next course.