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The host or hostess is obviously the person with the most stress and necessary preparation before any dinner party. However, we want to be good guests as well. If you’ve never been to someone else’s dinner party before or you’re just concerned that you haven’t always been the best guest, then here are a few tips to make sure that you’re not making any of the more major faux pas out there.
Some breathing room
Never, ever arrive early to a dinner party. You might think that you’re being polite and punctual. However, if you’ve ever thrown a dinner party, then you know that guests arriving before you are ready feels like you suddenly have an extra burden beyond preparing the rest of it. In fact, you likely also know that your starting time isn’t often as early as you have stated it will be. So, give them some breathing room and arrive a little late, between five and ten minutes late. If you get there early, take a walk around the block.
An open mind
If you have dietary restrictions, then you should clear them up with the host if they ask (or politely inquire about them if the date’s soon approaching and they haven’t). However, don’t start rattling off “preferences”. Your host is working hard to make a meal for everyone. Even if you see an ingredient you’re not fond of, keep an open mind and give it a try. Fussy eaters at adult dinner parties aren’t fun for anyone.
Easing the fun
Your host should be in charge and if they lead the way with conversation, then let them. However, they’ve done a lot of work and by the time guests arrive, they might be a little frazzled, mentally. Not in the best place for striking up conversation. Ease the burden and come prepared with a few conversation starters of your own. If you feel like you have little to say, let someone else lead the way and think of follow-up questions or reactionary chatter instead. Focus on listening and making others feel heard.
A little appreciation
Before and after the meal, lavish that host with appreciation. It’s tough work, throwing a dinner party. If you give them a gift, put a little thought into it. If getting them wine, then make sure you know about Portuguese wine and what vintages might work best for the meal they’re making, for instance. Toast the host at the dinner table and share a few heartfelt words about them. Don’t forget to write or phone your thanks after the night’s over, too.
The most daunting step of all, but if you’ve been a guest, then you should be a host, as well. Throwing a dinner party is a different kettle of fish and there are plenty of tips to help with it. However, if you don’t reciprocate, it will feel very much like a slight to your hosts.
Above the rest, try to be considerate to everyone else around the table. You might not be able to control every aspect of your personality to everyone’s liking, but so long as you’re polite and conscientious, you’re not doing anything wrong.