You have been invited to a formal dinner. When you arrive you do all the social niceties, give the host a warm hug or a kind word, gift a bottle of fine wine and then choose your seat with care (if the places aren’t fixed). But all that initial good impression will go down the drain if you follow it up with behavior most would deem uncouth. So here’s a list of major no-no’s at a dinner party that must be avoided at all costs:-
1. I don’t know what the silverware is for.
After you have chosen your seat, the next thing that grabs your attention is the arrangement of cutlery and napkins on the table before you. But what if instead of a modest spoon, fork and knife combo you find heavy artillery occupying the borders of your plate? I mean come on, two spoons, four forks and two knives? Is this a dinner party or an assassin training class?
I will tell you what you should NOT do. NEVER EVER declare out loud that you do not understand the difference between a soup spoon and a dessert spoon and so you are going to eat everything using just one. Do that and you might as well wear a signboard around your neck reading “Redneck”!
Solution: Observe someone who knows what they are doing and copy their actions.
2. I make wild gestures to make a point in a conversation.
You might be a leader in your field, a person used to making their point with hand gestures but NEVER do so at a dinner. After all you are there to enjoy an evening of fine wine and dine and not to convince someone that if they don’t agree with you then you are going to spear them with the knife you are waving around as you put your views forth. A little finger pointing, a few gentle waves of the hand is just fine but you don’t want that piece of chicken to fly off the tines of your fork and hit a neighbor just because you were wildly waving it around in the air.
Solution: Use your powerful speech to convince or condemn and not your moving hands.
3. I laugh heartily because everything else is hypocrisy.
You might have a strong sense of humor and aren’t afraid of showing it by bursting into loud laughs but NEVER EVER do so at a formal gathering. I know that a hearty laugh symbolizes a hale and hearty figure but then do you want to be like that annoying diner a few booths away from lunchtime a few days back who just couldn’t keep his voice down so that you could at least enjoy your afternoon meal in peace after a grueling day at work?
Respect the fact that there are other people around who are discussing things too and wouldn’t like to be distracted from their topic of conversation because you just couldn’t hold down your natural noise polluting tendencies.
Solution: Turn down the volume of your laughter or cover your mouth to muffle the sound if you cannot. The only reprieve from this is if everyone else around you is laughing heartily too.
4. I am hungry and at the edge of starvation.
Your stomach might be growling so loud that you have to give embarrassed smiles to your neighbors but NEVER pile up your plate with food and attack it as if you don’t have a tomorrow. I mean, come on, can you see anyone else around you behaving like a pig with its snout shoved in the feed trough? Okay, maybe there is someone like that in the guest list who has piled up his plate with at least four different dishes. But then tell me, how are you judging that person yourself? Not favorably, I guess.
Solution: Take a hearty quantity of one dish and put the food in the center of your plate and away from the edges. This way it gives an illusion that you have taken less than you actually have. And instead of attacking your food with a vengeance eat it slowly and feel the flavors burst on your tongue even if your brain is screaming at you to be fast. You will enjoy the experience of satisfying your hunger more.
5. I can feel the gas bubbling up my throat to be let out.
Burps can be a major problem at any gathering. They are loud, obnoxious and disgusting, not to mention the fact that everyone around you can smell the horrendous waft of half-digested food that makes a rude joke of the delicious smelling dishes around. Therefore, NEVER EVER burp at a dinner around people unless you wish to ward off the advances of some acquaintance who just can’t lay it off.
Solution: Cover your mouth and let out the gas silently and then pretend to sneeze before you take off your hand. After all letting people know you burped is like letting them know you farted from the other end.
Steer clear of these faux pas and before you know it people will start seeing you as a sophisticated and cultured human being. After all it’s just one evening. You can burp as many times as you want and make wild gestures to your heart’s content next day onwards.
So my dear reader, tell me what you think. Were the faux pas entertaining? Or was I being an obnoxious etiquette school headmistress? Did the above spark some embarrassing memories? Or did they remind you of someone else? I love hearing from you so don’t hesitate to share your own stories.