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It’s Called Manners. Look it up.


 
Not to be all holier than thou, but if there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s throw a dinner party. I’ve been doing it since I was a teenager. Now that I am 44, I have quite a bit of experience under my belt. I am aware of the quote: "The test of good manners is to be patient with the bad ones" but for today’s blog…we’re going to talk about it for God’s sake. Sometimes when I go to a dinner party (even at my fancy friend’s house) sometimes I think, “Oh my God, were these people raised by wolves?” We all know the basics of dinner party etiquette but I have my own suggestions…

As a hostess…

1. The most important role one has as a hostess is to be present. There is nothing ruder than inviting guests for an 8 o’clock party and waltzing into the living room at 8:45 because one was in the bedroom putting on false eyelashes. So rude. One needs to be ready at 8 o’clock when the first guest arrives.

2. Have everything ready before guests arrive. Do not run around the house as the guests are arriving, lighting candles, setting the table, tasting the hors d’oeuvres, screaming at the caterer or trying to put the children to bed. Get organized for God’s sake or don’t have the party.

3. Make everyone feel welcome. Make sure everyone has a drink and a comfortable place to sit. Make everyone feel special. Make sure to introduce the guests to each other. Start the conversation for them with a little funny story and then move on to the next couple. It is necessary to be the ringleader of this party and one does not want the party to be stagnant. Sometimes the hostess will have to break the ice for people because some people are socially inept.

4. Do not split up couples at the dinner table. They came together…they want to sit together. We are not in preschool where we need to learn how to talk to others. Besides, David would be lost without me at the other end of the table. He’s not really a people person (he’s French), if you catch my drift. We are better as a team and by team, I mean I do all the talking.

5. Do not, under any circumstances, usher guests out of the house after dessert because one “has to get up early.” So rude. Even if a guest overstays his welcome by two hours, just endure it.

 Now, as a guest, there are some rules as well…
 
1. Do not arrive early, late or empty-handed. Arrive with a hostess gift and a smile. Keep it simple… a white orchid, an appropriately scented candle, a lovely coffee table book. If there is confusion about this, check out my blog posting titled Polite Society for some good ideas/inspiration for a hostess gift.

2. One should not ever ever ever ever get drunk. Drunk people scare me and if a guest were to be drunk at one of my dinner parties, they would never be invited back. Ever. One word: Blacklist. Don’t even get me started on the use of a toothpick. I swear to God, one of my aunts (father’s side, obviously) brings her own toothpicks to a dinner party. I don’t even know how we are related. Oh, now I remember, by marriage.

3. Do not dominate the dinner party. It’s not a stage, for God’s sake. One must try to be interesting, witty, engaging and slightly demure. Always introduce yourself and look people in the eye. This is no time to be bashful (learn how to fake it if necessary.) Additionally, do not mention a guests’ plastic surgery. Do not talk about Botox, chemical peels, implants, tucks, nips, lifts or ones favorite plastic surgeon (even if he is at the party).

4. Do not eat loudly, animal. Do not put your napkin in your shirt, toddler. Do not push your plate away when you are finished, brat. Do not leave your soup spoon in the bowl, fool. Do not butter an entire piece of bread, pig. Use your utensils appropriately, hillbilly. Do not reach for food, ask for it to be passed, heathen. Do not start eating until everyone has been served, egoist. Don’t share food, hippie. If you are a vegetarian…shut up because no one cares.

5. Dress appropriately, for the love of God. If one shows up to my dinner party in a tank top, I will poison ones gazpacho.

(Sorry I seem so grumpy today. I woke up not feeling well, hating all my caregivers because they either talk to me too much or completely ignore me or expect to be congratulated for doing their job, worried my daughter was on an airplane today to Spain, had a dream that my apartment caught on fire and I couldn’t save my cat, disappointed that someone was mean to my favorite person Tom, could not find my favorite pajamas, we were out of milk for my morning latte, and the Real Housewives of Orange County concluded.)

 So those are my personal dinner party suggestions but oh, there are more, there are many many more. If, on the off chance one was indeed raised by wolves, fear not, there are lots of books to help sort oneself out. Here are a few of my favorites…
 
 
Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?
By Henry Alford
purchase HERE
 
 
 
Manners
by Kate Spade
purchase HERE

 
 
Tiffany’s Table Manners For Teenagers
purchase HERE

 
 
A Butler’s Guide to Table Manners
by Nicholas Clayton
purchase HERE


 
The Fabulous Girls Guide to Decorum
by Kim Izzo and Ceri Marsh
purchase HERE

 
 
A Guide to Elegance
by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux
purchase HERE

 
The Charleston Academy Of Domestic Pursuits
by Suzanne Pollak & Lee Manigault
purchase HERE

 
Good manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*CK
by Amy Alcon
purchase HERE

 
How to Be a Lady
by Candace Simpson Giles 
purchase HERE

Okay, now that we all know how to behave, let’s start this little series on The Art of Entertaining. Stay tuned for tomorrow. Hint: “Shooters.” By the way, I’ll try to come back tomorrow with an attitude adjustment. :-)

19 comments:

  1. The Guide to Elegance by Genevieve Antoine Dariaux is a reprint of an old book, of which there are two. And then there is a novel written about a young woman who decides to follow the rules set down by the Guide. Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. Here's a recent dinner party don't: Don't ask your host, whom you've never met, if you can bring a girlfriend, when you've been asked by another guest to be her guest. And if you do have to do this, certainly don't do it via e-mail and don't neglect to tell the person who initially invited you. It's awkward all around and you might just get uninvited.

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  2. No, but see, this is why people like you. #4 for the win.

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  3. My copy of The Finest Houses of Paris arrived. The book is a visual feast fir the eyes. thank you for the recommendation!
    Karen

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    1. 0mg, Karen, isn't that the greatest book. We call it the Bible. I use it as a reference book. It's so fun to look at the overall pictures and then go back and look at all the details. It's just magnificent.
      My mother completely copied the black lacquered dining room with all of the books. Such a great book. Glad you like it! XOXO

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  4. You are hilarious and absolutely right in equal measure. have some decorum is one of my favourite sayings. Tonkath

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  5. Dear Eleanor... I loooooooooove your blog. Guest rules #4 - It is impossible to stop laughing. Hugs from Brazil. Lenice

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  6. I love this post. I had a dinner party recently & my aunt pulled out her cell phone and checked Facebook continously through the entire evening. I too, don't know how we are related. Oh now I remember, through marriage.

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    1. Here is what to do in this circumstance! Take her phone (just snatch it......she will be unawares) If you have a pool; toss it in there! No pool? woods?? toss it there? No woods?

      Take it to the powder room. drop it in the toilet. (do not flush) Just stay in there a minute or two.

      I am not kidding. Do that. It cures.

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  7. I would love to pre-order your book to give as holiday gifts.
    pve

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    1. Thank you! I'm working on the book every day. :-)

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  8. Can't wait for the book! I will be the best hostess gift imaginable.
    Whenever I am in a foul mood, I binge read your posts until I can't stop laughing. Thank you so sharing your great taste and humor!

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    1. Hi Rebecca! So glad you like the blog and I am happy I can make you laugh. You must have a wicked sense of humor as well. :-) I'm working on the book. Stay tuned. XO XO XO

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  9. I just ordered five or more books thanks to you! I really can't believe we met in Montecito.....(it seems like yesterday!!)

    How old is your daughter now?

    If she would like to visit.....we would love to have her!!! Ella would too!

    Sheesh! I will send pics of Ella and Poppy ("big name" Penelope like mine)!!

    Scary how fast they grow up!!!

    Penny

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    1. Poppy is the cutest name ever. I remember seeing the children at church. They were so sweet. Perfectly dressed by the way. :-) My daughter, Grace, is 19 years old. She is about to start her second year at The American University of Paris. She was just in Santa Barbara for the summer. She will be back in the spring and I will have her come say hello to you. XOXO

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    2. Oh goody!

      Poppy is a freshman at Thacher and is 6 ft tall!

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  10. After reading #4 I realize that I need some major overhauling in the manners department. ;)

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