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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 5 (August 1, 1935)

At A Dinner Party

At A Dinner Party.

The most important point of etiquette concerning a dinner party is to be punctual. It is the height of bad manners to arrive even a little late. On the other hand, one should never arrive too early. Do everything possible to reach your destination about three or four minutes ahead of the stated time, so that you may dispose of your wraps without causing delay.

When you have an escort, remember you must go in first. If you are with another woman, the married, or the elder woman, goes first. Greet your hostess and then your host. At a small informal function, you will probably know the other guests; if not, your hostess will doubtless make one or two introductions. At a large party it is not considered necessary to make introductions all round. If your dinner partner is unknown to you, he will, of course, be introduced. Do not linger talking to your host and hostess if other guests are present or arriving. Pass on after greeting them, and find a seat.

Going in to dinner, your partner takes charge of you. He will find your place at the table, and then pull out your chair, unless a servant is available to do this for you. Never make a move to pull it out for yourself. You take your seat at once. Your partner will take his seat at your left hand after the hostess is seated.

Lift your bread or roll from the table napkin before you unfold the napkin which you should lay across your lap. This leaves the place clear for the first course to be placed before you.

As silver and cutlery are laid in the order in which they will be used, just remember to take them in order commencing from the outside. It is correct to refuse a course that you do not want, and also to refuse wine. The question of the correct glass for wine need not worry you, for the servant will pour whatever wine you choose into its appropriate glass. If you are not accustomed to wines, it is well to refuse them on these occasions, Simply say “No thank you” when they are offered, and the waiter will suggest mineral water or lemonade instead. If you do take wine, remember that your glass will be filled up again if you empty it, so if you do not wish for more, leave some in your glass. Liqueurs are served in tiny glasses and should only be taken in very small sips.

Do not give all your attention to your partner during dinner; talk occasionally to the man on your right. This leaves your partner free to give some attention to the lady on his left now and again.

When the dessert is over, unless you are the guest of honour taken in to dinner by your host, rise when the others do. The guest of honour, however, must watch without appearing to do so for the hostess to look in her page 61 direction and give the slight bow which is the signal for rising.

When leaving, bid your host and hostess good-bye (not overlooking a few words of appreciation). There is no need to shake hands with any of the other guests, but just give a bow and smile to those nearest you.