Dinner Party 3 4-22-2013

Party Like It’s 1925

A Guide to the Etiquette of Social Gatherings

In our youth, a raucous basement party used to suffice as an ideal Saturday night. As we march towards respectability, our social calendars include gatherings that require more sophistication than warm beer and a Dave Matthews playlist. The editors at Of Rogues and Gentlemen have prepared a list of etiquette to help you navigate these affairs with the refinement of Jay Gatsby while avoiding the trappings of the nouveau riche.

RSVP Protocol
Upon receipt of an invitation, it is important to graciously accept or regretfully decline in a timely manner. Your host will appreciate the diligence and be able to plan accordingly. Consider this a binding contract, with only illness or family emergency as the only acceptable alibis. Lastly, don’t be the guy who asks the host who else is attending. This isn’t a campus mixer.

Don’t Arrive Empty-Handed
Be sure to ring a few days prior to see what you may bring. The majority of the evening’s heavy lifting will rest squarely with the host, but it shows proper breeding nonetheless. If you’re considering flowers, we suggest sending them a day prior so they may be displayed during the dinner. While a box of wine and a Whitman’s Sampler is great for your reclusive aunt, if you opt for wine use the help of a trusted sommelier for some appropriate recommendations.


Upon Arrival
Arriving early is great for an international flight, but not for a dinner party. Catching the host off-guard and in the midst of preparation is poor form. Plan to arrive no later than 15-20 minutes late and have the host’s phone number handy in the event you run into a snafu. Obviously you’re worth the wait, but when people are hungry, all bets are off.

Singing for your Supper
Despite the topic of (forced) conversation, a gentleman always acts interested (even if the host asks you to view a slideshow of a recent trip to Lake Titicaca). In Gatsby’s day, it was not uncommon for a guest to quite literally “sing for his supper,” so essentially, you’re getting off easy. Instead, prepare for the dinner discussion by paying close attention to current events. Being misinformed is bad enough, but ceaseless ignorance is for reality stars only.


A Show of Hands
Assuming the host does not employ a full-time manservant, offer to help clear the table. While your attempts likely will be rebuffed, it’s gracious all the same.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye
Once after-dinner drinks have been served, it is now permissible for you to consider departing. Seek out the host and remember to lavish praise on his or her efforts (even if the night ran a distant second to a root canal). Lastly, be sure to send a hand-written note of thanks. Nothing exudes refinement more than penned correspondence. And more importantly, mom would be so proud.

TAGS: 1925 | Dave Matthews | Etiquette | Lake Titicaca | manservant | nouveau riche | root canal | RSVP | snafu | sommelier | Whitman Sampler

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  • avatar
    Don Folz
    Bravo! Peter Post, Winston Churchill, nor our favorite chap Nick Carraway could have said it or written it any better. Although, there is a difference between someone reading your article to speculate if you have it right, versus someone reading your article to actually learn something new and then earnestly applying that new-found knowledge. Hopefully, the latter is the more prevalent example... especially among the under-30 crowd. Not too cynically yours,
    18 months ago | Report abuse |