Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Prom (Or Any Other Event for That Matter) Dinner Etiquette

There are a lot of dining etiquette guides out there, and most people know the basics - hold open doors, ladies sit and order first, no elbows on the table, don't talk when there's food in your mouth, etc. Lots of people are more advanced, knowing the "bread on your left, drink on your right" rule. Still others know the difference between a dessert spoon, a tea spoon, and a soup spoon.

That's all important, and it's all well and good, and if you want to find out what the proper way to eat a meal at a restaurant is, you can easily find lots of information out there.

But we thought we'd offer some additional tips for you to come off looking polished at your fancy dinner. These aren't all really etiquette tips per se, but you should follow them anyway if you want to come off looking like a gentleman, or even just a polite guy.

    Remember not to drink and drive
  • If you're driving, take your coat off - it will prevent it from getting wrinkled.  If you're in the back of a limo, you can leave your coat on.  (If you find yourself driving a limo, by the way, your coat should be on).
  • When you're walking on a sidewalk, you should always walk between a woman and the curb.  This is an old rule from the time there were horses on the street - the idea was to protect the woman from mud, splashes, etc.  The rule still stands - cars can splash too.

Small gestures can say a lot
  • When walking to the table, the lady walks ahead of the man.  He should pull her chair out for her when they get to the table.  If you want to be really formal, anytime a lady gets up from the table, the men should stand up slightly in their seats.  If it's a big group, only her date and the man sitting next to the woman leaving the table need to rise.

  • When you get to the restaurant DO NOT drape your coat jacket over the back of your chair. Also, if you are wearing a long tie, DO NOT throw the tie over your shoulder in an effort to prevent it from being stained.  You'll look like a toolbox.

    Give the server 30 seconds
    of your attention
  • When the waiter is telling your table the specials, please look at him/her, and don't zone out.  It's rude.  Also, you may end up hearing something that you like, and if you haven't paid attention you will have to ask the waiter to go through all the specials again.  That's boring for them. Also, if the waiter doesn't tell you how much the special is and you want to order it, it's fine to ask for the price, just do it directly and casually.
    Bread - left -- Drinks - right
  • Ok, here's the bread on your left, drink on your right rule: your water glass is on the right of your plate - here's a way to remember: make an "OK" sign with both hands, palms facing each other. Your left hand will form a "b" and your right hand will form a "d". Your bread (b) is on the left, and your drinks (water, wine, etc.) (d) are on the right.

  • If someone asks for salt, you should pass both the salt and the pepper - they stay together- and don't use them before you pass them on.

  • We hate to be a broken record, but please carry some mints.  If the restaurant is loud, you'll be leaning in close to your date to have a conversation.  Sometimes the pleasure of enjoying the taste of your food should take a back seat to having fresh breath.  Plus, you may need the mints after coffee (and later).
Also, remember to hold open doors, both car and restaurant.

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