Knowing how to be a good dinner guest will ensure that you are asked back at another time. There are common rules of etiquette when you are invited to dine at someone’s place.
The following tips may help to make your stay more comfortable and impress the host. An invitation to dine at someone’s home is a gift; make sure that you are a good guest.
- Respond to the Invitation as soon as you can – When you are invited to dine at someone’s place make sure that you accept the offer within a reasonable period. This will allow them to plan their time as well as offer alternative dates if you have a scheduling conflict.
- Clarify WHO was invited – In most cases, the invite will come from a friend and it will likely not be a formal written invitation and they will say who is invited. Still – that doesn’t mean that your children are invited unless expressly mentioned in the invite (be it phone, email or engraved invitation). If the invite doesn’t mention your children, say something like “Great! Let me just make sure that I can get a babysitter for the night!”. When you say that, it will give the host the opportunity to either say “Don’t be silly – bring the kids!” or they will say “Can’t wait to hear back if you can make it!”. if they say the latter, then your kids, no matter HOW wonderful you might think that they are – are just NOT invited. Don’t bring them anyway. Seriously – DON’T!
- If you have any dietary issues – Let them know of any dietary concerns that you may have. This will help the dinner to be prepared and eaten without any discomfort. If you are on a gluten-free diet, gently let them know that. If you know that your host is not familiar with any restrictions that you have (vegan, gluten-free, kosher, etc), offer to bring a dish that you can eat. A guest doesn’t want to show up and only be able to eat salad, bread and butter. On the other hand, most hosts would be embarrassed (and somewhat annoyed for not knowing in advance) to go to the time and effort to prepare a meal, only to have their guests not eat it. This is a 2-way street. If you have bona-fide food allergies or restrictions, POLITELY mention them to your host (and no “I hate anything with onions” doesn’t count)
- Give Cancellation Notice – If you should need to cancel, make sure that you do so within a reasonable period. This usually means an advance notice at least 48 hours ahead of the date planned. Your host might be shopping and preparing foods in advance and if something comes up, you want to minimize their cost as well as their inconvenience!
- Don’t cancel unless it is an emergency – once you have accepted an invitation, then you are bound by it. Don’t back out at the last minute because you are too tired, or you had a bad day at work. Your dog died? You have the flu (or even a bad cold, especially if your hosts have small children)? You are bleeding out of your eyes? Those are good reasons. Not realizing that is was the Season 4 Premiere of The Walking Dead that night is NOT a good reason!
- Arrive on Time- When invited for a dinner party, it is vital that you arrive on time. They have spent the time ensuring that the food is bought and prepared properly. Do not be late and cause the food to be overcooked. “Fashionably late” is only for very large parties (and even then, it is considered rude to show up late)
- Bring a Gift- It is important that you thank the host by bringing a gift to the dinner. This can be a bottle of wine, a salad, or even a dessert (although wine or chocolates are always best. In the case of a formal dinner party, bringing a dish could be considered rude). If you have no time to pick up something to bring to the host, send something through the parcel post as a thank-you gift.
The above tips are just common dining etiquette, and should be followed at every dinner that you are invited to attend. Knowing proper dinner etiquette will help to ensure you are invited back another time.