Sharon Schweitzer, international etiquette expert, author, and founder of Access to Culture, shares three basic etiquette rules to follow:
1/ Seating Plan & Place Cards
As the host, keep the cast of family, friends, distant relatives, neighbors and old friends in line with a seating plan. Seat introverts next to out-going guests and elders adjacent to youngsters.
It’s acceptable to split married couples but not newlyweds. Place cards may range from simple and handmade to fancy. As a guest, RSVP within 48 hours of receiving the invitation.
2/ Conversation Starters
As the host (hostess), you want the attitude of gratitude at your table and to keep the conversation flowing smoothly. Plan interesting conversation starters for your guests.
For example, ‘What are you grateful for this year?’ Other examples include upcoming or past travel, musical events, bestselling books, newly released movies, food, sports and holiday memories.
3/ Leave the Toast to the Host
Some guests don’t realize that giving the first toast as a guest is a big taboo. The host—the curator of the evening—deserves to make the initial toast. If you’re itching to make a big announcement or show your appreciation to the hardworking host, ask them privately when they will be making their toast so you know when your turn is coming.
If you are toasted as a guest or host, do not raise your glass and drink. It’s like clapping for yourself. Remember the 3 B’s of toasting: begin, be brief and be seated.
This original article first appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.