In one of the many treasures I’ve purchased from Barnes & Noble, I found a simple but fab book on napkins. In the book, the author as a list of etiquette tips for both the host and guests of a party. The book is by David Stark and is titled “Napkins With a Twist”. While I don’t typically like to quote others here, I just thought the tips for hosts and guests were too good to pass up, so check this out:
- Hand address your invitations. Computer labels are appropriate only for junk mail.
- If you want people to dress up, dress down, or anything in between, state it plainly on the invitation. Hinting won’t do.
- Know your guests’ food allergies (as in Are they allergic to meat, fruit, nuts etc.?) and serve accordingly. If you’re not sure, prepare alternative dishes just in case.
- When guests arrive, introduce them to the other guests. Don’t leave it to others to handle this most important task: It’s your duty.
- Place cards are artful ways of orchestrating the evening’s mojo. If guests are hesitant to take their places, it could be because they can’t read the cards – don’t forget that some people won’t be wearing their reading glasses. Offer gentle guidance.
- If guests arrive late, greet them with a warm smile and hearty hello, take their coats, guide them to the table, and say something to make them feel welcome.
- When you’ve had enough of company, serve coffee. It’s the international signal for “get the heck outta here.”
- An invitation requires an RSVP. Period.
- A dinner party requires that you be on time. End of story.
- Always arrive with a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, a small gift, or something. (Be sure it doesn’t have to be used that night.)
- If you’re asked to take off your shoes at the door, just do it. It’s nothing personal.
- Even if you’re not a believer, if the host wants to say grace, go with it.
- If you rememeber nothing else, don’t point, not with your finger, with your hands, or with your knife.
- Turn off your cell phone at the dinner table. If you are truly expecting to be on call for an emergency, turn the phone to vibrate. In the case of that emergency, quietly excuse yourself from the table.
- When you leave, say a gracious, sincere thanks and then get going.
- It is good manners to send a thank-you note. Would it kill you?
The author is very frank about his advice, but for good reason. Many of us forget these simple rules of etiquette and forget why they are there, to make sure everyone is comfortable. Please make sure your guests and hosts are comfortable by remembering these pieces of advice during the holiday party season. Everyone will appreciate it!