Etiquette Advice for Formal Affairs

If you’ve recently been invited to a formal affair, don’t be embarassed by your manners, dress or speech. Know what’s in, what’s out and what’s totally unacceptable at a formal bash. Man or woman, be sure that your dress style is lavish as well as properly cleaned, pressed and well-fitting. A scuffed heel or chipped nail may be overlooked by yourself but not others. Hair, shoes, accessories, and make-up should be perfect but not excessive.

When arriving at the affair take the time to smile and greet the others. Don’t simply walk by and begin snacking or drinking. Be sure and greet the host and hostess before beginning any festivities. If you’re unsure of whether or not you’re expected to bring a gift, make the decision to bring one. Gifts are always acceptable but it could be frowned upon if others bring gifts and you don’t.

The way you dress and how you act when you arrive are not the only things you have to concern yourself with when attempting to make a fabulous impression. When it comes time to dine there are a few rules to follow so that you’ll fit right in with the others. Most people know not to talk with food in their mouths but some don’t know that it’s looked upon in the same way if you turn your plate while eating. Turning your plate to reach a particular food is totally taboo. When the plate is set before you, leave it still.

Place your napkin in your lap and put it back in your lap after each use. If you’ve worn gloves to the affair remove them during dinner and place them on your lap, never on the table. Gloves can be replaced after the meal but not while still seated.

Never pick up foods with your fingers unless they are served as finger foods, such as carrot or celery sticks. Some foods with bones, like chicken drumsticks or beef ribs, are acceptably eaten with fingers but are not usually served at fancy dinners. When unsure about which utensil to use, wait until you see someone use theirs then follow suit.

If there’s dancing at the affair, don’t feel as though you’re obligated to dance with anyone in particular, but don’t send them away rudely either. When asked if you would like to dance, and you’d rather not, a simple “No thank you” will do. If you do accept the invitation, don’t get on the floor and begin “dirty dancing”. Be graceful and don’t forget to thank your partner for the dance.

When leaving the affair take the time to locate the host and hostess to thank them for their hospitality. Your obligation doesn’t end there, either. Within a week, send a note thanking the couple or individual for inviting you and mention specifics of the occasion. Thanking them for the delicious dinner or the fabulous wine gives a personal touch to the note.

Try to enjoy yourself and have a good time; there’s no need to feel stiff or uncomfortable. Try to participate in conversation, have a sense of humor and mind good manners and you’ll fit right in. Review the following checklist before going to the bash:

1) Never pick your teeth or belch at the table.
2) Don’t laugh out loud with food in your mouth.
3) Never eat off someone else’s plate, even if it is your spouse’s.
4) Do not kick off your shoes no matter how badly your feet might hurt.
5) Don’t blow your nose amongst the guests – go to the bathroom.
6) Do not comb your hair at the table or amongst the guests – go to the bathroom.
7) Don’t say things like “give me the butter”. Say “please pass the butter” instead.
8) Don’t stand up from the table, rub your stomach, or stretch.
9) Try not to yawn. If you must, cover your mouth.
10) Participate in conversation by listening as well as speaking, when it’s appropriate.

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