If you are hosting a dinner party, it is important to know how to host an enjoyable and successful event for your guests. The first step in planning the perfect night would be deciding what type of gathering it will be—and deciding on your general guidelines for the evening.
The “dinner party etiquette for host’s” is a guide that includes information on how to make the best impression, what to eat and drink, and what not to do.
The following is an extract from Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newnam’s Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party. Dinner parties, according to Gagliano and Newnam, may be “the fundamental cornerstone of a healthy contemporary society.” But, exactly, what does a dinner party entail? They explain it in the video below, as well as in my podcast with Newnam.
Before you commit to our dinner party template, be sure the event you’re planning is, in fact, a dinner party. Because, although a dinner party may seem to be self-evidently defined as “a party held over supper,” the fact, like most things of world-shaking significance, is a bit more complicated. Consider the following scenario:
- Is it considered a dinner party if you dine at 4 p.m.?
- Is the Passover seder considered a dinner party?
- What if the cuisine is takeaway pizza and the alcohol is served in gleaming twelve-ounce pull-tab cans with a contest on the back?
All of these events have the potential to be enjoyable. However, none of them are dinner parties, and we’ll explain why.
The UN Nutrition and Reverie Commission’s Subcommittee on Common Sense has outlined the globally accepted requirements that constitute the contemporary dinner party. We’re referred to as “us.” As you’ll see in the next chapters, we advocate for a casual disregard for numerous norms. However, in order to qualify for the revolution, a real dinner party must at least follow these fundamental guidelines.
1. The objective of a dinner party is to have supper and have a good time.
Other than this, a dinner party must have no agenda. Our lives are already too scheduled; the dinner party provides an opportunity for spontaneity. It’s adult recess, as we’ll remind you multiple times throughout this book. Did you intend to be beaten up at recess when you were a kid? No! It simply kind of occurred that way. Dinner parties are similar, however instead of being beaten up, people have a good time.
1. Dinner gatherings on weekdays must start after 5 p.m.
A proper dinner party starts after the regular workday has concluded, at least 5 p.m. This is to ensure that the greatest amount of invitees are able to attend.
It’s also because a dinner party should be a means to commemorate time spent away from the office. Not a burden that requires attendees to leave work early, drive through rush hour traffic, and then spend the whole of the party worrying about the task they didn’t do.
In fact, a good rule of thumb is to start the celebration half an hour after your city’s regular rush hour finishes. That would be about midnight in Los Angeles, for example.
2. Weekend dinner gatherings must start after 5 p.m. as well.
This gives you enough time to do the following tasks:
- For the hosts to get a good night’s sleep and then clean the bathroom before the party.
- Before the celebration, attendees should sleep late, do one duty, and then do something enjoyable, useful, or otherwise wonderful for themselves (e.g., hiking, sex, sitting quietly and enjoying trees).
- Guests are encouraged to purchase alcohol to bring to the gathering.
Food parties are also held after 5 p.m. since that’s when dinner is served, men.
3. There is no set time for a dinner party to conclude.
You’ve had children’s parties in mind. Parents will be able to pick up their children from your residence with a few hours to spare to get them ready for bed since those have end timings.
A grown-up may have a bedtime, but the great thing about being an adult is that you can ignore it. When the final person leaves/stumbles into a taxi, the dinner party is officially finished.
3a. IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, SOME OR ALL OF YOUR DINNER PARTY GUESTS STAY OVER, THE PARTY IS OFFICIALLY OVER AT DARKNESS. To put it another way, the morning gathering that follows is no longer a supper party. It’s time for breakfast. Brunch is a very real possibility (due to the closeness of leftover food and wine). Always be on the lookout.
THE WEEK’S DAY
1. There are no dinner parties on Sundays, Mondays, or Tuesdays.
On Monday, you and/or at least some of your visitors must work. Even the most amazing Sunday night party will not be enough to make someone forget how much it annoys them. Don’t waste your time trying. (Exception: If Monday is a holiday (e.g., President’s Day), Sunday may be viewed as a “extra Saturday” and so is acceptable for a dinner party.)
Monday evenings are for accomplishing things you planned to do over the weekend but didn’t because it seemed like too much effort. Paying payments or publishing a book on dinner parties are two examples.
Tuesday evenings are a bit of a snooze fest.
2. The best evenings for a dinner gathering are Fridays and Saturdays.
Fridays and Saturdays are both part of that short weekend window when you may delude yourself into believing you’ve escaped the rat race. Each is followed by a handy hangover/humiliation recovery time of twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
Be forewarned, though, that 50 to 100 percent of your pals will be organizing different sorts of parties on Friday or Saturday evenings for these precise reasons. There will be a lot of competition for visitors. Therefore:
3. Dinner gatherings on Wednesday and Thursday nights are welcomed.
It’s been long enough since you’ve gone to a party to want to go to another one by Wednesday or Thursday night. And celebrating maturity by partying on a “school night” is a terrific way to do so.
Furthermore, a fantastic Wednesday or Thursday night dinner party might effectively “front-load” your social time for the week. While everyone else is stuck in traffic on their way to parties, you may read, relax, or sink into an Instagram hole on Friday and Saturday nights.
Dinner parties are not those held the week before a significant national holiday. These are holiday gatherings.
1. A dinner party must take place on the planet Earth for the time being.
In the zero gravity environment of the International Space Station, we cannot recommend drinking significant amounts of wine.
2. The dinner party must take place in a private home.
Or, if your house is the White House, a public dwelling, since, hey, you paid a lot of money to live there.
So, why a private apartment rather than a public location? Partly because officers are much less inclined to act if someone becomes too loud or too nude. But also because it is the most courteous of all imaginable deeds to welcome non-family guests into your house. It was a major breakthrough for humanity when Thorag invited Grunt home for pterodactyl sous vide, confident that Grunt would not club him in the face and subsequently devour Thorag’s wife, Lauren. Sebastian Junger, best-selling author and military documentarian, once told us on our program,
“Humans are the only species in which a young male (or female, for that matter) would put his life on the line to protect a peer with whom he is not related.”
To get the notion, replace “sacrifice his own life protecting” with “give his last piece of roast beef to.” Being a host for your friends equals humanity.
To recap what has been said so far: A dinner party is a gathering on Earth that takes place after 5 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays at someone’s house and serves pterodactyl. In relation to that:
1. At a dinner party, a percentage of the food must be handmade.
It’s like DJing a dance party with the radio if you don’t prepare for your own dinner party. The purpose of a dinner party is to celebrate each person’s unique, beautifully flawed humanity. Your humanity is admirable. Part of what makes this offer so essential is the ability to express your taste, style, and personality via meals you made yourself.
The three acts of your gathering are cooking, serving, and cleaning, and the preparation of food serves as the narrative core of your event. A dinner party without them is like a movie without a storyline. Richard Linklater is the only one who can pull it off.
The 51 percent rule is the second rule.
DO NOT BE CONCERNED. We understand the current world’s diversions and demands, when whole seasons of binge-worthy TV programs are launched on a daily basis and your boss may SMS you work duties even while you’re in labor. Cooking a multicourse dinner may be difficult if you don’t have a lot of spare time. As a result, a meeting is considered a dinner party if at least 51 percent of the foods served are prepared at home.
This means you can offer a lot of delicious tamales from that terrific Mexican restaurant down the block. You must, however, make a salad as well as your mother’s secret queso recipe. And maybe make some cookies for dessert. Also:
3. Keep the packing hidden.
All non-homemade food is removed from its package for a proper dinner party. If you serve the tamales right from the huge foil pan in which they were brought, that’s a feeding trough, not a dinner party. Would you just place the tamales on a serving platter? It’s OK to pile them up on a dinner dish like a meat-and-masa ziggurat.
This restriction applies twice as much to food packaging containing a corporate brand. Dinner parties are a welcome break from advertising. This isn’t a time for product placement; your dining room isn’t a billboard, and your gathering isn’t a Hollywood blockbuster.
Table 1 is a must.
A table must be present for a gathering to be considered a dinner party.
1a. Because the table’s function is to compel everyone to talk to one other, everyone must be sitting around it while eating.
2. An A/V-free zone exists during a dinner gathering.
Except for the minimal quantity required to play music, all audiovisual electronic equipment within twenty-five yards of a dinner party must be turned off. The idea is to minimize visual distractions so that you can concentrate on the people in front of you.
As a result, the same rule applies to your television as it does to you when you go to see your gorgeous doctor: it should not be switched on. A Super Bowl party is not the same as a dinner party.
The use of cell phones should be strictly regulated. A casual check of mail/messages every hour or so is OK, but those who try to start YouTube should be refused food/drink and insulted until they stop. Otherwise, your dinner party will devolve into a YouTube party in no time.
Laptops are also prohibited unless they are being used as a music source.
Disable all Roombas as well. They’re adorable, and everyone will notice them.
3. An outside dinner gathering is possible.
The outdoor party in Fellini’s Italian film classic 812 is one of the most famous dinner parties ever. (To be fair, the party had over a thousand people, thus breaking the four-to-twelve ratio) (see below). You may make an exception if you’re one of the best filmmakers of all time.) Indeed, many European nations only have dinner parties inside between April and August if there is a threat of hail or war. Set up a table in the backyard if you want to! Just make sure you’re not hosting a BBQ, which is something quite else.
1. The rule of four to twelve.
Your guest list must contain at least four persons but no more than twelve for it to be considered a dinner party. You, the host, are included in this.
Dinner for two people is simple and relaxing. It’s a supper shared by two buddies. After a hard day, you and your husband are catching up. When you bring in a third individual, it’s more likely to develop into a therapy session than a party. It’s a caring pair who are trying to keep their lonely single pal calm. Or three single buddies complaining about obnoxious couples.
A dinner party may include up to four people, unless the guests are two couples, in which case it becomes a double date instead of a dinner party.
What about a guest list that includes more than twelve people? It’ll be difficult to accommodate them all around one table. It will become impossible for everyone to have a single discussion at the same time. And tossing enough salad for that many visitors will cause carpal tunnel in your salad-tossing arm. Put out cheese and crackers and label your gathering a regular old party, which is exactly what it is if your guest list reaches twelve individuals.
2. The 25% rule applies to family members.
Dinner parties are an important element of establishing and growing connections outside of your immediate family. As a result, if more than 25% of the guests are relatives, your gathering is not a dinner party. Family get-togethers are fun, but at a dinner party, the majority of people should be there because they want to be there, not because they have to because of shared DNA.
Furthermore, an excess of family members goes against the atmosphere of uninhibited, free-flowing discourse that is at the heart of a dinner party. Which of Mom’s children did she adore the most? What is it about you that you always get your way? When did the dog get punched? As the NSA hides behind your online browser, such questions lurk beneath a family gathering. It’s probably best to save this Freudian quagmire until Thanksgiving.
Listen to my podcast interview with Brendan Francis Newnam, co-author of Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party: For more on the whys and hows of dinner parties, listen to my podcast interview with Brendan Francis Newnam, co-author of Brunch Is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party: For more on the whys and hows of dinner parties, listen to my podcast interview with Brendan Francis Newnam
The “modern dinner party” is a list of guidelines for hosting an enjoyable, modern dinner party. The article includes tips and tricks on how to host the best dinner party ever.
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