How to be the perfect dinner guest

The moment we flick over our diary pages to May and peek a slice of sunshine through the otherwise grey clouded skies, we find our weekends suddenly filling up with scribbles of arrangements and brave BBQS. We tentatively riffle through florals and tea dresses in the shops and stock up on nibbly bits should we dare to do the hosting ourselves. The other day the Daily Mail created a quiz on the strength of your social etiquette knowledge in order to commemorate the Queen’s 90th birthday. I have always considered myself to be well brought up and well mannered, I of course took the quiz with surety of success- to my absolute horror, I scored a mortifying 40%. I would definitely not be invited back to the Queen’s 91st birthday tea! Luckily, I have thoroughly revised what I got wrong and pulled together some of my own tips for being the perfect guest for you. Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, traditions of politeness and rules of chivalry are dying off. For some reason, I can’t imagine the Kardashians heading off to teas armed with the perfect scented candle at the socially correct time and I just don't see Kanye pulling out a chair for his Queen. We are living in changing times but in my opinion, there are some things that should never be compromised on...

1. Dress to Impress 

There is something about a dinner party that brings to mind old fashioned ditsy dresses and red lipstick. If I am hosting I tend to keep my Cath Kidston apron on the entire time- for effect and because I am a massive clutz. As a guest or hostess, I find that pulling on a dress for a dinner party not only looks more feminine and traditional but also is much easier to style. Follow Kate Bosworth's lead and wear floaty sorbet colour and a simple pair of strappy heels. For a more casual or colder dinner, I would suggest a simple jeans/ smart jumper combo- keeping it feminine in colour!
Cos, £69
BRORA, £259

2. Arrive 10 minutes Late

MADE.com, Aurelia, £29

This was one I got wrong in the Daily Mail quiz and I must say timekeeping is not my strongest point. The one time that I do make an extremely conscious effort to be on time is if food is involved. This is because a) I like food but b) because as a budding amateur chef myself, I know that timing is everything- the difference for a proud, puffed up souffle and a sad and soggen-looking souffle is seconds. 10 minutes allows your hosts a 10 minute amnesty for shoving mess to the side, lighting a few candles and arranging canapes. Nobody wants an early-bird when you are still covered in flour and the house is a mess, smelling of burnt rolls.

3. Bring the Perfect Gift

The Perth Soap CO, Holiday Gift Set

For me, this is probably the most important part of etiquette and general politeness. A scented candle or a bunch of flowers are always going to be a fail-safe option to go to and actually my mother has taught me to keep a small collection of scented candles on hand at all times. However, taking something a little extra thoughtful and different can make the difference between being a good guest and the perfect guest.

I would recommend The Perth Soap Company, passionate about quality, they create beautifully packaged luxury cleansing bars which feel like a real treat to receive for your host. A particularly spectacular venture of theirs is the Holiday Gift Set which contains a vanilla fig, fir and grapefruit and sparkling champagne all infused with argan oil (which they also make beautiful bottles of by the way). The smell upon prising open their packaging is that of a glittering sunny garden party- both rich with champagne and fresh with fir. Not only is the actual product deliciously glamorous but the packaging is right on trend. The stoney grey and blush is perfectly aligned with the trending colours for all interior designers and would add a tone of luxury to any bathroom.

Alternatively, bring something edible for after dinner. You must always, always okay this with your host as this could completely spoil their plans. A really lovely ideas is to bake or buy different biscuits or 'petit fours' for after dinner with fresh mint teas/ coffees. Find a recipe for some beautiful goodies here: https://laurenconrad.com/blog/2016/02/recipe-box-rose-cupcakes-and-white-chocolate-dipped-berries/

4. Use the Correct Cutlery

and always put your napkin straight on your lap! (tip from my mummy). This helpful little guide should help you to identify some of the more obscure cutlery that you may come across in the royalist of households. If in doubt, start from the outside and work your way in...

5. Converse with Confidence

Whether you know the other guests well or not it is important to make an effort with everyone around the table. I always think that there is nothing more awkward than being sandwiched between two different conversations unable to input. Here are a list of conversation topics for those like my dad who are blessed with social awkardness: 

- An outfit related compliment
- Jobs (a no-no according to the Daily Mail but I disagree)
- How a couple met
- The news (nothing political) - something lighthearted see my Happy Edits
- How good the food is/ recipes
- Upcoming holidays which may lead to great travel tips

6. Leave with Grace

It is the end of the night, the boring couples have trickled out with sheepish babysitter excuses and the hostess is eyeing the mounting leaning plate tower that has formed in her sink. No matter how warm your tummy is from wine and how comfortable the newly upholstered lounge chairs are, you absolutely must not miss this vital social cue. There is no hostess in the world that is so hospitable that she is not yearning to clean up a bit and curl up into bed- let alone the cooking, carrying plates in heels is no easy feat! Graciously walking out the door is a life skill and must be handled at the perfect time. It should always be started with  a 'thank you so much for having me, it was so lovely- truly the best dinner/BBQ/luncheon I have ever been to!'. Offer to help with any washing up and insist you escort yourself out if your host is busy. On this note, I would strongly advise a thank you text the next day to assure you invite back!


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