Tag Archives: Dining etiquette

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Yes, YOU Can Host A Dinner Party Too! – National Etiquette Week – Day 3

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What visual comes to mind when you hear the words dinner party?  Do you think fancy schmansy? Do you visualize infused cocktails and dishes that require directions to eat? Do you envision dressing up in your finest attire?

If you answered yes OR no, you’re wrong AND you’re right!

Scarlet Says, a dinner party is a social occasion at which guests eat dinner together. There is a lot of flexibility in that definition. The bottom line is that a dinner party can be fancy or casual, at a restaurant or at your home, filled with the finest meats and vegetables prepared by a private chef or prepared by you in your own home.

If you are invited to, or plan to have a dinner party, relax – it’s really going to be just fine.

When we decided to host a couple’s dinner party last year, there were some very specific goals that we wanted to achieve. These items can apply to other kinds of dinner party’s, so let me give you the scoop:

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Food: Decide what you’ll serve and the entire serving/display plan behind it. Food is of course a very important component of a dinner party. One of the highest focal points of the party will in fact be dinner, so it’s in your best interest to get this part right. For the couple’s dinner party, we decided to hire a chef. Chef Samaya prepared a delicious 3-course meal and relieved the stress and hassle of preparing the meal myself. It’s important for you to be present at your event. When guests arrive, you#1 Dinner Party-12#1 Dinner Party-38 shouldn’t be still preparing food, cleaning up or getting yourself ready. There are ways that you can cook the meal yourself and still be in hostess mode when your guests arrive. If you go this route, you’ll just need to watch the time and ensure that you keep a to-do list to ensure that you’ll be ready to rock and roll when the first guest arrives. If you want to go the route of cooking all of the food yourself you may want to consider meal or grocery delivery that could assist with the added hassle of a trip to the grocery store. As a treat to our Scarlet supporters and readers, and because I am an avid user of Hello Fresh, you now have access to try out your first Hello Fresh box at a deeply discounted rate. Hello Fresh provides weekly deliveries of farm fresh ingredients and delicious recipes to your doorstep. Visit their website and use the promotional code, Scarlet35, towards your first box.

Beverages: Right up there with your food selection choices lies another event component that requires some intentional thought – the bar and beverage choices. Alcohol and food are usually the most expensive elements of any event, so mind these items carefully as it relates to your budget. While a completely open bar is certainly attractive, and will be very welcomed by many of your guests, if you are looking to reduce costs, consider a moist bar, where perhaps there is just beer, wine and non alcoholic beverages. We decided to have wine, a selection of liquor and non alcoholic beverages. For dinner, we served a selection of white and red wines and for desserts on the roof, we served more wine and a selection of dark liquor. Remember that there are many people who choose to not partake in the consumption of alcohol. As a hostess, its important for you to ensure that there are beverage options for everyone.

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The Guest List: The guest list was and always will be a difficult thing for us, especially as it relates to dinner party’s. It was decided to have this dinner party at our home. Our dining room table sits 10 people comfortably, so really the choice was made for us regarding the maximum amount of people. Now, we have well more than 10 friends who are in a relationships, so there still was some narrowing down that had to happen and knowing that we would have future dinner party’s in the near future helped with decision-making as well. We would have invited everyone if we could, but that size dining room table doesn’t exist yet. When deciding your guest list, think about personalities. Now, here’s the thing (that you may not want to hear, know or be aware of). All of your friends or acquaintances may not be complimentary of each other.

So, this means that you’ll need to give some honest and careful thought to your guest list. You may be thinking, “but they’re all my friends and I’m the connecting link, so why wouldn’t things all go smoothly”. Look, bottom line is, there a ton of different personalities just within your immediate friend group alone. The way that some people approach, respond or react to things may not be something that you want to have to deal with at dinner. Now, odds are your event will very likely (and hopefully)  be a smooth, harmonious and pleasant event, but giving a few moments of thought to who’s personalities mesh together  (and whose does not) could be the difference between a success or a disaster.

#1 Dinner Party-124The Environment: One of the most enjoyable elements of the event was having desserts on the roof. The formal party of a dinner party, which usually involves sitting down in front of nice dishes, a well set table and being served is all well and good, but if there is an opportunity to break up the formalities, change environments and continue with the fun – do it.

Get Your Guests Involved: If there is a wine aficionado in the group who insist#1 Dinner Party-43s on opening and pouring the wine, let them. If your best girlfriend wants to come early to help you put the final touches on things, let her. I personally take my hosting duties seriously and do 95% of the work myself – but it’s because I enjoy it. But, if you’re going to be run down and tired, and not fully able to enjoy your event because you’ve tried to do everything yourself, consider commissioning assistance or  at a minimum, accept  the offer when someone wants to help.

Scarlet Says… dinner party’s come in all different shapes and sizes. The next time that you remotely consider having one or maybe just inviting people over, allow your mind to wander a bit into creative and non-traditional possibilities. The most important thing is to plan. Make to-do lists and give yourself enough time to comfortably plan for the event so that when dinner is served, you can sit back and enjoy the occasion just as much as your guests. #1 Dinner Party-24

Until Next Time, 


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Top 10 Etiquette Tips for Young Professionals

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  1. First impressions count: We all have our bad days, but limiting how they affect your attitude and appearance is best. You are often remembered for the rest of your life by your initial presentation. Look your best, offer a free smile and present the best possible version of you, every time.
  2. Tact always wins: We all get a little frustrated and perhaps even worked up sometimes, but tact ALWAYS wins. Take a breathe. Walk away. Spend a moment alone. Do whatever it takes to always remain graceful and exude tact.
  3. Respect your social network: Employers, associates, friends, colleges, colleagues and pretty much everyone else checks your social networking pages and they likely have searched for you in search engines like, Google, Bing and Yahoo. Is your online presence acceptable?
  4. Be grateful: Did you get a gift lately or did someone do something nice for you? Thank them by first verbally saying thank you, then by sending them a hand written thank you note. (Emailed thank you notes are ok, but hand-written notes and cards are magic.)
  5. Mind your body language: There is so much than can be said without saying a word. Your posture, your eye contact, folded arms or excessive leaning can communicate vibes that you are not truly trying to communicate.  Be mindful of what you are saying…without saying anything.
  6. Names…Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: If you are a human, you likely are amongst your other fellow humans in struggling to remember names. While mastering the art of names takes a while, the best way to begin the journey is to repeat their names as much as possible throughout a conversation. Everyone wants to feel special and the most simple way to make someone feel special is to know, utilize and respect their name.
  7. To eat or not to eat: Interviews and meetings occur in so many different formats and venues. At some point, you will have to conduct an interview or a meeting over a meal. Generally speaking, interviews and meetings over meals are not designed for you to have the meal of your life. They are a convenience factor because you have to eat and so does your meeting counterpart. They also offer an opportunity for your counterpart to see how you conduct yourself outside of an office environment. Three quick tips for dining over meals are: don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, prepare to pay your part of the meal or the entire meal if you called the meeting and limit your alcohol intake.
  8. Some things are a given now: As a young professional, there are now things that should go without saying. A few things include: always turn off your cell phone or silence it in professional or business settings,  learn how to shake hands the right way; no bone crushers or wet rag shakes and respect others time by always being on time, but preferably arriving early.
  9. Sneak texts: It’s incredibly obvious when you are disengaged in a situation and more engaged in texting instead. Save your reputation, respect the presence of others and spend a little more time with humans versus your electronic communication pal (your phone).
  10. Dress the part. If you are invited somewhere and a dress code is indicated, respect it and adhere to it. If you are unsure of the dress code, always dress up versus dressing down.

Until Next Time,

Scarlet Signature

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You’re likely counting down the hours to when work is over so you can prime your belly for some yummy BBQ!

Well, we are too!

The question is, what are you bringing to the party?

Coming empty handed to a BBQ is not cool. Bring something:

1. Meat
2. Side Items
3. Beverages
4. Paper Goods (Plates, Cups, Napkins)
5. Games
6. Dessert

The list goes on and on. If you are struggling with what to bring, just ask the host/hostess.

In some cases, the host(ess) may decline which means that for the “most part”, you’re off the hook, BUT if I were you, I’d still bring a bottle of wine or a small gift for the host/hostess…

Scarlet Says, be a good bbq guest! Bring an item or two to keep the party going.

Until next time,

— Scarlet


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