Steven and Chris

How to Host a Dinner Party

Corey Mintz writes a popular newspaper column called Fed, in which he documents the weekly dinner parties he hosts for friends and featured guests. He's also the author of the witty and clever book How to Host a Dinner Party. Test how well you know dinner party etiquette by guessing whether the following statements are true or false.

1. When inviting people over, always extend the offer for them to bring a plus one.

False! A dinner party means guests sitting town at a table. The first step is deciding how many people you can comfortable seat at your table. If it's eight, you can't invite six friends with plus ones. Your guest's comfort should come first. And let's face it, everyone you know is a couple.

2. Have a nice spread of snacks for when your guests arrive.

False! If you intend to get food on the table quick.

But true! If you plan on taking your time with the first course.

One way or another, guests should have the option of eating something within 30 minutes of arriving. A snack on the table can be a good way of stretching this out. But it can be too much if you leave them alone with chips or bread for too long.

3. No cell phones at the table.

True! A dinner party is a way to spend time and connect with our friends. Phones, even in the benign act of showing off a photo of your child, cat or dog, draw our attention away from the people around us.

4. Don't ask your friends if they enjoy your culinary skills

True! You will know if people like the food based on the sounds they make as they eat. Aksing for their feedback puts guests on the spot. It highlights the host's insecurities and is essentially a demand for compliments.

5. A dinner party is a great time to try out new recipes you've never cooked before.

False! Cook dishes you're confident about. If you already like them, chances are your friends will too. Plus you have experience cooking them so you know how to correct when you make a mistake. Trying out new material in front of an audience is a recipe for disaster.

6. Ask guests if they'd like a drink after you take their coat.

False! This is a bit of a trick question. Everyone wants a drink. Strangely, many people will decline unless they see you or someone else drinking. Instead of asking if they want a drink, ask what they would like to drink. Let them know you already have a bottle of both red and white open, and cold beer in the fridge.

7. Let the evening go on until guests are ready to leave.

False! Your home is not a restaurant. There are guests who think it's polite to leave early and there are guests who think it's polite to stay until you kick them out. This can create an escalation of politeness. But you have every right to end the night whenever you like. And you should, because going out on a high note makes it a more memorable evening.

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