Dinner Party Delay: How to handle tardy guests at a dinner party

Q: I recently attended a dinner party where the hostess announced in advance that dinner would be served at 7:00 pm. One of the invited guests was late. The hostess elected to wait for the guest to arrive. As a consequence, dinner was served roughly 30 minutes later than planned. Can you please share etiquette guidance on how best to deal with these kinds of issues? Thank you for your assistance,

A: Any hostess, after announcing what time dinner will be served, might wait up to 20 minutes for a late guest. After that time, she may serve the on-time guests, and when the late guest shows up, serve him/her whatever course everyone else is eating at that time. Otherwise, she may elect to wait, explaining to everyone else that they will wait a few extra minutes because the guest is unavoidably detained. However, when he/she shows up, she should not offer a cocktail and create a longer delay but rather escort everyone immediately to the dinner table

The Fine Dining Experience: How to know which utensil to use

Q: When dining at a fine restaurant with more than enough silverware, how you know which utensil to use?

A: The simple way to know is to start from the outside in. If there is a soup course, the soup spoon will be to the far right of the spoons – on the outside – so you use it first. The salad fork, if that is the next course, is to the far left of the place setting, and you use it for salad. If you follow the order of the placement of the silverware you should be fine.

Make it out to Cash: Is asking for cash as a gift rude?

Q: My granddaughter’s birthday is in December and she will be 12 years old. I casually asked her what are some of the things she would like as a gift for her birthday and Christmas. Her answer was ‘Cash’ or a ‘Gift Card’. I told her that I thought it really isn’t good manners to ask for money, that she could have suggested a gift that I could pick out for her. She said that if she gets ‘Cash’ she can then buy what she wants. Please tell me – is asking for money rude and did I give her the right answer?

A: In answer to your question, it is not incorrect, when ask, to tell someone, even your grandmother, that your most appreciated gift would be money because. . .. you are saving for. . . .whatever, when that is the case. However, many families are uncomfortable exchanging cash and prefer to be able to select a gift they know the recipient would enjoy. If you are more comfortable buying a present than sending a gift card or a check, it is fine for you to say so, and ask for a small list of some specific items she might enjoy opening.

RSVP Version 2.0: RSVPing in the Digital age

Q: On RSVP’s. I was under the impression that when sending an invitation that requires an RSVP, you should enclose an envelope for that purpose. My daughter tells me I’m old fashioned, and that RSVP’s can be done by e-mail or by phone. I maintain that would be unacceptable.

A: Your daughter is correct, not that you are old fashioned, but that an RSVP can be requested by telephone, or email if a telephone number or email address is included on the invitation. If it is not, then a written response is required, following the form of the invitation. It is written on your own notepaper and mailed in your own envelope.  A reply envelope, however, is not required. Only when a response card is included in the envelope would the hosts also provide an envelope.