Saturday, September 19, 2009

Etiquette and Dining Furniture

By Kelly Kim

One of the remarkable occasions when we can loosen up and let loose in this madly active world is a simple dinner shared with family and friends. With great food, lovely conversations, cautiously selected pieces of traditional or modern furniture and treasured company, evenings just couldn't get better. In fact, sharing these precious moments with people we value is a good way to de-stress and appreciate the fact that we can still let our guards down even though we think we couldn't afford it anymore. Yes, chomping our favorite menu, gulping down a can of beer and letting off a big belch in front of people who think we're cute could be some of the best dinners of our lives.

The question is, how about formal dinners? What's the whole point of perplexing things at the feeding trough? Why all those spoons and forks on both sides of the plate when we could all survive with just one decent pair? Formal dinners may sound restraining, but they're really so much fun. Just keep a few things in mind and you'll be fine.

There might be no menu and you may be stuck with very few options. Most probably, a multi-course menu has been laid out and what you have to do is merely wait for it to happen. Usually, it happens during weddings, anniversaries, class reunions, and even business meetings. If you're still wondering about that parade of spoons and forks next to your plate, just remember that each pair is good for each course, unless there will be a new pair provided for every new course served.

A little courtesy will go a long way in formal dinners where etiquette is highly expected. In other words, turn off your cellphone, pager, or anything that could interrupt the meal. That table napkin should land on your right knee, not tucked under your chin. Those glasses to the top right of your plate are yours and will be good for a number of drinks from an aperitif to a cordial.

If you think you're ready for that first bite, wait before everybody else is. It is simply a basic practice of politeness to wait for everyone before partaking of a meal. Particularly, the host or hostess gets things started and only then should you oblige to your first spoonful.

And then mingle. Socialization is perpetually the first and last purpose for events of this type. Meet people and interact with them. Begin or engage in polite conversations and simply enjoy each others company. After all, these dinners are more for socialization rather than for sampling gourmet food or anything else secondary.

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