The Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts of a Formal Dinner:

Written by Carley February 20, 2017

Good food and better friends- nothing to wine about here

Iowa crew takes on formal dinner

Cheers to our first formal dinner

So last week we were given a quiz over formal dinner etiquette followed by a seminar to review the subject. Going in, I felt pretty confident on my dinner etiquette… I mean I knew how to drink tea with my pinky up, so I was basically super proper, right? Yeah…unfortunately not. After getting a solid 25/35 wrong on the quiz, I reconsidered the possibility of being born in a barn. I also reconsidered going to this formal dinner that I convinced myself I wouldn’t last any longer than 5 minutes at. So let me share 5 do’s and don’ts of a formal dinner so you’re not that person who gets kicked out of a formal dinner. (For the record I lasted the entire 2 and a half hour duration of the dinner.)

So despite what I’ve done my entire life, you are in fact not supposed to leave everything on your plate/ the table. Apparently this is the quickest way to tell your servers you will not be returning (worded in the nicest way possible). Instead, if you’re trying to tell them how much you enjoyed your meal, you should neatly fold your napkin and return it to the chair in which you were seated.

2. Don’t eat the bread, don’t smell the bread, just don’t even look at it.
If you’re one of the few people who can successfully break bread into small enough pieces to fit into your mouth without leaving a single crumb, then dig in! …If you’re like me and can’t even look at the bread without getting crumbs all over yourself and the table, then think again. In that scenario you may be better off just waiting for one of your many courses. Speaking of the many courses here’s another tip-

3. DO: Come Hungry. Personally I would recommend eating light throughout the day and not filling up on appetizers because I promise by the second course you will be regretting it. By the third course you might even need to get up and take a few laps (speaking from experience). You may want to also consider that dress/suit that’s a little too big because by the time you leave it’ll probably fit (again- speaking from experience). If I didn’t get it across in the last few sentences, let me say it one more time…you don’t have to worry about leaving hungry- appetizers, 3 courses, and dessert could arguably feed a small family or in this case one person.

4. Give a toast…but hope one’s not given to you. I’m just kidding, but you should probably know the rules of a toast before you dedicate them all to the same person. Whether you’re drinking water or wine, it is impolite for whomever the toast was given to take a drink following the toast. After a toast is given to someone, they are supposed to raise their glass (holding the glass stem with a light grip), touch glasses with everyone else, and then return it to its starting position.

5. DO: Know the correct usage/ positioning of your silverware. Leave your silverware in the 4 o’clock position when you’re done eating. Use your silverware starting from the outside moving in. Although you might want to think your servers wanted to give you a lot of choices in regards to your serving utensils, they are each actually supposed to be used with a specific course. You are supposed to start with the outside two (one from each side) and use them by working your way inward. So despite the clock reference, 4 o’clock is not a reference to your hand positioning while driving. When you’re done eating a course that requires a knife and fork, you are supposed to position them in the 4 o’clock position next to each other on the plate to cue your server that you’re done.