Sweet Sayings: Is it Appropriate for a Man to Use Pet Names when Addressing a Waitress?

Q: Is it appropriate for a man when accompanied by a wife or date to address waitresses as ‘darling’, ‘sugar’ or ‘honey’? If it is not appropriate how should the significant other address this situation?

A: No, it is not appropriate for a man or a woman to address a waitress as “darling,” “sugar,” or “honey.”   The person’s significant other may privately and tactful point out that those terms are considered reserved for close family members and friends and a waitress may consider it, no matter what the intention, as condescending.

Right Handed World: Which Way do you Pass Food Around the Table?

Q: At a family meal recently there was some friendly discussion regarding the passing of the food. So, which way is it? Do you pass to the Left or the Right?

A: You pass to the right, or counter clockwise. You pass it from your right hand to the person on your right’s left hand. He then can hold the bowl or platter in his left hand and serve himself with his right hand.

Night Lights: When is it Appropriate to Burn Candles?

Q: What is the proper etiquette for burning candles? My mother-in-law says you do not burn candles in the day, only at night. In the past, we have wanted to light the candle in the centerpiece on the Thanksgiving table but she is adamant that you don’t light candles in the daytime.

A: She is correct. Candles are lighted when dusk falls. However, when among close family and friends, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I know we are supposed to wait until dark but having candles adds such a nice glow that I’m lighting them now instead of waiting.” You wouldn’t do this for a strictly formal entertainment, but friends and family are expected to be understanding and surely would go along with your wish instead of standing on rigid protocol.

Removing or Rushing: When Do I Take Away a Guest’s Dinner Plate?

Q: When is the proper time to remove your guests’ dinner plates – after everyone is finished? I have a friend that insists on helping out at dinner parties but she starts removing plates before all are finished. She also insists on putting away food from buffets within 15-20 minutes of the meal. I think it is better to leave the food out and let people browse for a bit. I prefer to not remove dinner plates for at least five minutes after the final course so no one is rushed and they can enjoy conversation. I do appreciate her help but it sometimes stops the conversations and makes the slow eater feel uncomfortable. Am I wrong in politely asking my friend to hold off. What is correct?

A: No, you are not wrong at all. Explain that some people feel bad or rushed when their places are cleared before everyone is finished, or they are left with a plate when no one else has one. Tell her you love her help, but need her to please watch for a cue from you, and to not start clearing without your ok, because you don’t want anyone to be upset.  When she starts to clear the buffet, go to her and thank her so much for her help, but tell her you are not yet ready to have food cleared and if she is still willing to help a little later it would be wonderful, but not now. If she argues, remind her that this is your party and tell her she is upsetting you instead of helping you. You don’t have to be so sensitive of her feelings when she is disregarding your requests to cease and desist and you may have to be a little firm. If this means she doesn’t help you any more, so be it. At least the pressure will be off your efforts to be a gracious hostess.