Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to become the guest who is on everyone’s list

By Rebecca Black
Etiquette Now!

You have just been invited to a dinner party! What do you do now? Do you ask if you can bring something? Do you thank the host for the invitation? Additionally, on the date of the affair do you arrive fashionably late, at the stated time, or early?

Hostess gift? Is it necessary?
A polite guest thanks the host for the invitation and offers to bring something to dinner, such as a bottle of wine. Although the gracious host declines, a good guest takes a hostess gift anyway. This gift could be wine, flowers or a small box of chocolates. However, knowing your host’s preferences, hobbies and passions is golden. For example, one guest gave me a wine book as a hostess gift because he knew I love wine and teach “Wine Etiquette.” His name is on my permanent guest list.

When to arrive?
Although we are a country of many cultures, we have managed to find a common view on how we value time. In fact, we value time highly. Therefore, it is best to arrive at the stated time or no more than fifteen minutes after.

When to leave
Even though behaving as the “clueless guest” is not our intention, when we over-stay our welcome we certainly are. Regrettably, there is no one-size-fits-all etiquette rule to help us out with this issue either; but watching body language usually gives us the answer to our “when to leave” question.

Often the host signals the end of the evening. Usually this is a subtle gesture, such as offering coffee while mentioning your drive home, or asking what your plans are for tomorrow. More overtly, a host may begin clearing the table, which is an obvious signal that they would like guests to leave.

What to do if you don’t like the food?
Most people would drool over a beautifully grilled piece of salmon, but not me; I detest fish. It’s not that I am a fussy person. The reality is that we all have our likes and dislikes. Nevertheless, at a dinner party, our host just may serve something we loathe. Openly rejecting the offering is insulting; and it is impolite. Therefore, we need a plan of action.

If the host is plating the meal, request a small portion of the offensive offering (pick your polite reason). Move the food around using your knife and fork while talking. Slowly take bites of the food you like, while merely sampling what you do not. Most will not notice the food you are avoiding. When the meal is nearly finished, move the remainder of the food to one side of the plate. Voila! It appears as if you finished most of your meal. If the meal is served family style, you’re in luck. Just do not choose the food options you dislike.

Break or spill something?
Accidents happen. A good host expects the possibility of glass causalities, wine spills and food flying off a fork. It happens. But, what if you are the guilty party?

Let’s suppose you attend a dinner party and wine is served with the meal. After dinner, everyone moves to the living room for conversation and a game. Most take their wine glasses with them. While playing the game, one of the game pieces knocks over your wine glass and it breaks. Ouch! Broken glass and red wine soak the carpet. What to do now? Even though this is an accident, you are responsible for the broken glass and stain. So, offer to pay for the glass while sopping up the red wine with a towel.

The good guest
As an invited guest, always remember to offer to bring something, take a hostess gift, arrive and depart on time, taste what is prepared, appear to appreciate it, and take responsibility for accidents. Include, using your best manners and you will be on everyone’s guest list. Enjoy the evening!

— Rebecca Black is an etiquette specialist and teacher in Davis. For more information, visit

Special to The Enterprise


Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Frank, Peterman, Davis Bicycles! get us from here to there

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Local professor subdues unruly man on flight

    By Adrian Glass-Moore | From Page: A3

    Family fiction in miniature showcased at bookstore event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Seniors can get tips for getting around town

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    School has garden plots for rent

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sugar overload, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Rotarians, students, teachers, parents collaborate on planter boxes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Yolo Crisis Nursery is in crisis; please help

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Check out the night sky

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Hop to it: Easter Bunny meets Davis history tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Garden doctor: Veggie gardening available year-round

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Animal expert explains dogs’ thinking

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Are we there yet?: Self-reflections of a would-be stage mom

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A8Comments are off for this post



    Still supporting this guy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

    Urban forest under siege

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Drought care for our trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



    UCD staff allows 19 hits in Causeway rout

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS softball struggles in nonleague outing

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils open Boras Classic by splitting games

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    JV/frosh roundup: DHS sweeps a trio of baseball games

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Baseball roundup: River Cats get by Grizzlies at Raley

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Giants beat L.A. in 12

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Sports briefs: Stanford sends Aggies home with a lacrosse loss

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery





    Craft Center exhibit explores ‘Possibilities’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

    RootStock to host wine themed plein aire exhibit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    The California Honeydrops to bring danceable groove to The Palms

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    See Flower Power exhibit at Gallery 625

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Red Union Blue inks record deal

    By Landon Christensen | From Page: A9 | Gallery







    Comics: Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6