Ask B: Dinner Party Dilemma

Dear B, 

Whenever we host family or friends for dinner and they offer to bring something, I never know if I should take them up on it. On one hand, I’m the hostess so do I need to take care of everything? However on the other hand, they did offer, so is it polite to let them bring dessert, wine, etc.?

Sincerely, 

Ms. Hostess 


Ms. Hostess,

Great question, and one we can all identify with! This is entirely up to you. If a guest offers to bring dessert, however you have a certain menu you’re planning – say a French inspired night – and you’ve looked forward to making a Parisian apple tart for weeks – than kindly thank your guest, and let them know they only need to bring themselves. However if they offer to bring dessert and seem as though they’d love to contribute to the evening, and you would love some extra help, take them up on it! It will be one less thing for you to do (it’s a busy job being a hostess!), and a fabulous way to make your guest feel special and included. Happy hostessing!

Holiday Party Etiquette

We dressed in our holiday finest last night for a good friend’s Christmas party, and oh what fun we had! It was a cold and rainy winters night, so walking into their cozy home all aglow with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and cheerful chatter of party guests warmed us right up. We talked with old friends and met some new friends as well which is always a treat. Great conversation, lots of laughter and delicious food and cocktails capped off what was a truly special evening.

Since I know so many of you are attending holiday parties and dinners this week and through the end of the month, I wanted to share a few tips on holiday party etiquette. I think it’s always helpful to brush up on etiquette, especially this time of year when there are so many social engagements. And so, here are my tips and I wish you all happy holidays!

 

Holiday Party Etiquette

RSVP: While this seems like a no-brainer, so many people forget to RSVP – life is busy! But out of respect for the host, it’s best to always RSVP as soon as you receive the invitation.

Bring a hostess gift: It can be a fabulous bottle of wine or champagne, flowers, yummy chocolates, a candle, the list goes on and on. We brought some of our favorite peppermint bark cookies to the party last night, as we knew both our hosts and their children would love it!

Greeting the host: Be sure to greet your host upon arriving at the party, and also thank your host and say goodbye before you leave. It’s common courtesy, and takes a matter of minutes! While some people believe in “ghosting” or leaving a party without mentioning it to their host, I think if possible, it’s always best to say thank you and bye.

If you have the sniffles: FOMO is real, however if you’re sick stay home! You won’t have fun at a party if you’re under the weather, and the other guests will likely try to keep their distance if you’re coughing and sneezing. Be considerate of your own health and others if you find yourself sick the day of the party. And if you do fall ill, be sure to let the host know ASAP.

Be a social butterfly: Of course it’s great to chat with familiar faces at holiday parties, but try to introduce yourself to some new people as well. You never know who you will meet and what fabulous new friends you’ll make!

Remember your table manners: Whether it’s a sit down dinner or cocktails with a buffet of appetizers, remember the basics – chew with your mouth closed, use the proper utensils, napkin in your lap, etc.

Be a great conversationalist: Ask questions! This is how you get to know someone and create engaging conversation. Try and steer clear of politics, religion, and other topics that can cause tension. Also, come prepared with some current events in mind.

Say thank you: You can send a hand written thank you note, or even just send a quick email or text. Regardless, it’s always nice to follow-up and let your host know how much fun you had at their party.

Ask B: Splitting the Bill

 

Dear B,

I love to dine out with my girlfriends, and we try to do brunch or dinners about once a month. Along with our entries, some of us will share appetizers or salads, or enjoy a bottle of rose or cocktails. When it comes to the bill though, I’m constantly perplexed about the best way to split it. Do you recommend splitting it evenly, even if some of the girls don’t drink or have one of the appetizers? What is most fair?

Sincerely,

H


Dear H,

Good for you for doing monthly girls dinners! It’s so important to make time for friends, and what better way to catch up than over a fabulous meal.  The check can be a sticky situation though, so my advice includes two options: Option number one is to kindly ask your group if they mind having separate checks. If all are in agreement, then notify your server, at the beginning of the evening, to split the bill. In other words, each person will receive a bill for exactly what they ordered. This way, everyone can be in charge of their own check. Option number two is to evenly split the check between all of the guests. If everyone has a meal that adds up to essentially the same amount, then it makes perfect sense to just do an equal divide. Another thing to consider (and something my friends do since I don’t drink), is if you enjoyed cocktails and one of the other girls didn’t, perhaps offer to cover her portion of the tip. Also, if you’re celebrating someone special, e.g. someone’s birthday, it’s lovely to cover their portion of the bill.