Monday, December 1, 2014

Manners Monday – #DareToBePolite – Dining & Entertaining

December marks month two of our #DareToBePolite campaign.  Fresh off the Thanksgiving bandwagon, it’s time to now prepare for the throngs of holiday party soirees and the endless amounts of invitations, obligations and appreciations that will ensue from now until New Year’s. Whether an intimate gathering with a select few or a massive affair with hundreds, the basic tenets still apply and are expected to be upheld. Always make your guests feel welcome, create a cozy atmosphere, keep the conversation flowing, avoid stirring the pot, don’t disgust your dining partners, and have an endless supply of libations on hand.

For the next several weeks we will be exploring everyday table manners as well as formal dining skills in a variety of settings from the living room to the board room and over power breakfasts, lunches and dinners. We will dissect food idiosyncrasies, dietary restrictions and culinary options to expand both the palate along with the mind.  We will delve into the vast world of entertaining from the invitation and décor to the preferred cuisine and select entertainment. We will investigate the roles of the happy host along with the grateful guest and uncover the many quandaries that arise from the RSVP’s and attire to the requisite thank yous and goodbyes. Many of life’s most meaningful moments involve a degree of dining and entertaining and we need to bring our A-game to ensure we enjoy it to the fullest.

Step 2/Week 1: Dining & Entertaining: Setting the Tone.  The world of dining and entertaining offers an excellent opportunity to display ones best manners and perfect the art of feeling confident while putting others at ease. In these next seven days, we begin specifically with setting the tone. This is the first step in planning any occasion from a business dinner to a birthday party. The choice of venue, the degree of formality, the budget, the personality of the guests and the number of attendees must all be taken into consideration. Are you courting an international client over lunch?  A review of the continental dining skills may be in order to avoid sawing your steak.  Organizing a big birthday bash for your 80 year old mother? Selecting a venue with easy access for elderly guests as opposed to a venue for purely aesthetic reasons will hopefully be top on the list.  Setting the tone on a more symbolic level has more to do with frame of mind. Attending the annual office holiday party?  You may want to eat a little nibble beforehand to take the focus off of the free shrimp and more on the benefits of stress-free socializing with co-workers. In-laws invited you and your spouse to join them for a holiday weekend in the mountains?  You may wish to push aside personal differences and approach them with a willingness to get along rather than being just being right. Handling these subtle, yet vital issues beforehand sets the tone both mentally and physically and ensures the best outcome for all.    

A successful dining experience builds bonds and solidifies relationships.  A pleasurable party leaves warm lasting memories for years to come. How will you choose to set the tone or improve the tone in the next week?  Share with us what you discover in yourself and in others. Join us now! Make the vow to #daretobepolite!  

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