Placating Picky Eaters: Ensuring all your guests are happy

by EPI Staff on July 2, 2009

Q: We entertain a great deal, and I usually don’t now if our guests are vegetarians or have food allergies-until they’re sitting at my dining room table and not touching the main course.  Should I be asking everyone ahead of time about dietary restrictions?

A: If you’re having a few people over for a dinner party or a weekend stay, it’s a good idea to check, especially if you’re planning to serve a dish some people can’t handle.  You could say, “We’re thinking about having shellfish, and I wondering if you’re able to eat shrimp or clams.”  Another approach: “I haven’t bought groceries yet for the weekend-any preferences?”  When you’re planning a larger party, you needn’t ask each guest about food restrictions, but to be on the safe side, make sure you include some “neutral” dishes such as a vegetable platter, pasta with meatless sauce, fresh fruit for dessert.  That way, everybody will find something he or she enjoys.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

NoLess THan Marchioness July 7, 2009 at 7:25 am

Nowadays it seems as there are more and more allergies and diet restrictions for either heath or religious beliefs. I am always accomodating when a guest tells me when confirming the invitation rather when they are seated at the table. When this happens I try to improvise something else for them.
On the other hand “Picky Eaters” or the latest fad dieters are usually not follwed up on their capricious requests . It is quite unpolite to have your host leave guests and whip up something. I may sound harsh but if I were a restaurateur with a full staffed kitchen it would be different, but at home after a meal, china , silverware has been planned to perfection, such request seems out of place.

Eleonora Tortorici Marchioness of Montaperto


Ellen August 28, 2010 at 6:53 am

This is a poignant topic for me at the present time as I am in the process of planning the menu for our wedding. We are likely going to be serving only one meat entree option during our seated dinner reception. It will probably be either chicken or beef. Of course we will have a vegetarian option as well. We know most of the guests who are vegetarian and thus would rather not have to include en entree choice on our RSVP. Would it be appropriate for us to write something like this on our response card: “Please email to specify any food sensitivities.” Is that tacky? We want to be gracious, accommodating hosts!

Thank you in advance for your insight on this. I LOVE Emily Post’s advice! I picked up the Wedding Etiquette book and it has become my “Big Day Bible”. Keep up the great work in saving us all from social disasters one tip at a time.


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