Hosting A Dinner Party – Business & Social Etiquette Blog

Send your invitations on good quality white card at least two weeks in advance; include what the event is, when and where it is to be held. Include your name or the name of the host, the time of the dinner, the address, and a dress code. Request an RSVP with a latest reply date.

Planning  the Menu

Decide which courses you are going to serve and the order of the courses for your dinner

Once you determine the order of your menu, write it down.  The main course is the focal point of the menu, and all other foods are selected to compliment this course; temperature, texture, and colours have to be considered.

Have  a balance of bland, strong, sharp and sweet tastes. If creamed soup is served as a first course, creamed vegetables are not included in the main course. When a course is served in a pastry shell, pudding with a crust is not appropriate.

For a meal of four courses or less, light hors d’oeuvres or canapés can be offered with cocktails or drinks on arrival.  Do not take your drink through to the dining table.

Suggested Menu

1. Soup or fish

2. Entree (main course) with vegetables/potatoes/side dishes.
    A sorbet can be served after the main course to refresh the palate. 

3. Pudding –  do not refer to this as desert.

4. Cheese and  biscuits with fruit i.e.  grapes.

5. Coffee and petit-fours


Prepare the wine you have chosen to accompany each course. Make sure white wine  is chilled. Red wine is served at room temperature.  Supply a soft drink for those who do not drink alcohol.  Have filtered water in a jug on the table with sliced lemon or lime.

Preparation Before  the Meal

  • A few days before clean your house, buy the non-perishable foods
  • The day before, buy the perishable foods.
  • Prepare any dishes which you can ahead of time.
  • Set the dinner table the day before or the morning of the dinner.
  • At a formal dinner the tablecloth overhang is, approximately 10 to 15 inches.
  • The tablecloth and napkins should be white linen approx..18 inches square.
  • Use your best china, if available silver utensils and  crystal glasses.
  • Make home-made soup  the day before; it normally tastes better.
  • Put the drinks and glasses out ready for your guests arriving.
  • Put out the clothes you will be wearing on the evening.
  • Choose an interesting centrepiece low enough for everyone to see over.

Set the Mood

  • Choose soft background music which will not interfere with any conversations.
  • Do not use scented candles at a dinner party.
  • Put on any other lighting, up lighting is usually softer than down lights

Seating Arrangements

  • Seat yourself and your helper closest to the kitchen.
  • The guest of honour should be seated in the main seat.
  • Partners should be seated separately, alternate women and men, around the table if possible.

Leave time for yourself and go and make yourself presentable.

Enjoy your dinner

For more information visit my website at The etiquette courses are on sale for £3.99. The courses are also certified for continued professional development (CPD) if required.

Good Luck


About the author

Ellen is our Business & Social Etiquette Blogger. You can reach Ellen on: Etiquette and Manners, Facebook, Linked In

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