How To Be The Ideal Dinner Guest This Festive Season

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Christmas can be somewhat of a minefield when it comes to decorum. Orla Brosnan of the Etiquette School of Ireland has suggestions on how to navigate gracefully through the festive season.

RSVP as soon as possible. 

There’s nothing worse than not getting back, not showing up or not giving the respect an invitation deserves.

• Bringing prosecco or champagne is much more fun than wine.

People want to hear the sounds of corks popping during the festive season. Place in a nice bag with a ribbon. If there are children in the house, bringing a little gift for them as well always sets off a nice tone.

Keep conversation light.

Stick to travel, arts or leisure. People don’t want to hear about religion or politics. Be interested and interesting. Don’t complain – there’s nothing worse, and you may not be invited again.

Special food needs can be a pitfall.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, unfortunately, the protocol for large parties is that you generally don’t mention your dietary requirements to your host. If, however, it’s a smaller party, you should let the host know as soon as possible so that he or she can cater to your needs. If for example, you’re coeliac, you should give as much notice as possible or offer to come with a dish prepared.

Don’t arrive early.

Be 15 minutes late to a party. If you’re going to be more than 15 minutes, send a text to say you’re running late.

• Make sure your phone is switched off.

Or leave it on silent, unless there’s an emergency. Don’t have it under the table, trying to send and receive messages.

• Don’t overstay your welcome.

When the evening is winding down, pick your moment to depart. If your host is yawning or glancing at a watch, you’ve probably stayed a bit too long.

• Thank your host before you leave.

Comment on the food and say how lovely it is, even if it isn’t. Afterwards, if it’s a close friend, you can text your thanks, but the proper etiquette is to handwrite a letter. And in a couple of weeks or months, reciprocate the invitation.

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