Author Topic: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties  (Read 22670 times)

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C0mputerGeek

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2010, 01:38:50 PM »
The OP makes me quite nostalgic. I have posted before that my grandmother had a formal dinner party at least once a year.

When I was old enough, I was hired to serve at them. It's how I began learning to throw them. Yes, formal dinner parties require a staggering amount of preparation.

It's not just the meal, which has to be planned to adequately serve people with a variety of food restrictions, but also the place cards and the seating and the cocktails and the hors d'oeuvres. Grandma also made sure she had someone look out for her more reticent guests so that they would have someone to talk to and not be left out.

I am not sure what was my grandmother's preference and what was actually etiquette, but I would add:
1. Have someone at the door to greet the guests and take coats/purses.
2. During the cocktail portion of the evening, be sure they servers give every guest a chance to sample all of the hors d'oeuvres. Make sure one has an adequate supply of mixers for the cocktails
3. Check plates, glasses, and silverware in advance to ensure there are no cracked or chipped pieces and that there is a adequate supply (read: matched set) for each table.
4. Check, double check, and triple check the seating arrangements as well as the head of each table (note: my grandmother had 3 large tables she used and could seat up to 30 people at her formal dinner parties). It is crucial to select a table head that will look after everyone at the table and make sure each guest is drawn into a conversation.
5. Once a dish has been served, place it on the sideboard so that the guests can get themselves another serving should they so choose.

Wordgeek

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2010, 09:47:27 PM »
The punctuality issue is interesting.  If I'm having a dinner and tell people to come at 6, the Canadians generally show up within 5 minutes before or after.  The British come within 10 minutes but never before the stated hour.  The Americans show up en masse at 6.30.  One American friend told me it was rude to show up less than 20 minutes late.




Venus193

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2010, 12:20:15 PM »
I'm fanatical about punctuality.  I think it is rude to waste time out of other people's lives. 

As to dinner parties at any level of formality, it is rude to force the hostess to delay serving as it will compromise the quality of the food.  A former CEO of mine was a favorite child and there was a story that her mother ruined Christmas dinners for years delaying them until her arrival.  Which often didn't happen.  No wonder her siblings hated her.

Shoo

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2010, 12:22:49 PM »
If I'm invited to something at 6, I arrive at 6!  We shouldn't be guessing what our hosts mean when they give us a time.

QueenofAllThings

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2010, 04:44:11 PM »
When at table, the host/hostess should have ready an interesting topic should the conversation falter or should bean-dipping be necessary. One of our favorites is "Name the best American (country of choice) rock band/movie/novel" - everyone will have a different opinion, but, unlike politics or religion, it generally stays genial - and often gets absolutely hilarious.

sparksals

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2012, 12:33:23 AM »
Out dogs are part of the family.  Just like children, they do not get locked in a room.

AuntieA

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #21 on: December 16, 2012, 02:26:44 AM »
Resurrecting this to add:

If you are doing the serving, remember to serve the ladies before the gentlemen (but the GOH, if there is one, is served first of all, regardless of gender)

You serve from the left, clear plates from the right.

I've been at many semi-formal dinners at my mother's, and a couple of formal lunches/dinners for the presenting of awards/medals.
I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.

Library Dragon

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Re: The Basics of Good Hosting -- Formal Dinner Parties
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2013, 08:05:28 PM »
Let me resurrect this to beg and plead the host/hostess not seat spouses/BG-GF/partners next to each other.  You may need some smiles and "How fun this will be" comments.  It's a dinner party, not a date.

My grand-dog means the world the world means the world to me, but my guest with with a pathological fear of dogs will take priority at my dinner party.  I invited the guest and have an obligation to the guest.

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