Christmas and New Year are a time for entertaining and mingling with a plethora of parties and dinners to go to and hold. In fact, for social butterfly Belles, throwing a fabulous dinner party in January is just the way to get through the cold, depressing month. But in a digital age that has sometimes forgotten good etiquette, what do we need to do to make sure our guests feel at ease, or indeed how do we respect our hosts if we are the guest?
Debrett’s, the doyen of etiquette, has produced a wonderful little booklet in association with the Flower Council of Holland and Orchid Holland to ensure that we respect each other. Whether you are planning on hosting or attending a dinner party, the new Debrett’s book provides the perfect guide to the ultimate in dinner party etiquette. Here we have taken their top five tips:
1. Don’t bite of more than you can chew. It’s better to do something simple well than making a mess of an over elaborate dish. If you want to try a new recipe, make sure that you try it out once before the big day.
2. Do as much preparation as possible beforehand. Make sure the table is laid and minimise time in the kitchen so your guests can enjoy your company
3. Don’t allow the drinks to drag on for too long. You’re guests will be hungry; serve some canapes to ensure guests aren’t drinking on an empty stomach
4. Answer invitations promptly. Don’t make the hostess chase you up. Respond the the invitation in the manner it was sent. If you receive a formal written invitation then reply with a handwritten note whereas if you are invite by email or phone, respond in the same way.
5. Don’t arrive too late. Whatever time your hostess specifies on the invitation, it is polite to arrive a few minutes (up to 15) late. If you are going to arrive later than 30 minutes late, you should call with your excuses and explanation.
To purchase the Debrett’s Guide to Dinner Parties booklet for more advice and hints, visit the Debrett’s website. The booklet is £4.99 and covers everything from table settings, table decorations (orchids are a must!), essential equipment and invitations and dress codes to advice on timetabling the evening, planning a seasonal menu and serving drinks.