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Hosting Etiquette

Consider the guests' tastes when choosing the restaurant.

  • Are they adventurous diners, or do they prefer consistency?
  • Are they vegetarians?
  • Does the restaurant have enough options to satisfy a group?

Make reservations.

Arrive early to be at the restaurant before the first guest arrives.

If a guest(s) is more than 10 minutes late, seat the group and ask the maitre d' to seek the tardy party.

The host walks behind the guests if the maitre d' leads the group to the table. When the maitre d' does not lead the group, the host should lead the guests.

When you arrive (especially if you are a woman), tell the maitre d' that you are to receive the check at the end of the meal.

Stand to greet any latecomers to the table.

Make it clear to your guests that they can order pre-dinner drinks, even if you are not. Tell your guests to order any item on the menu they like. To subtly get this point accross, you can recommend an item in the middle or high end of menu prices or tell guests what you're having (a dish at the high end of the price range). You can identify an appetizer and say it looks "delicious" to inform guests that it is alright to order an appetizer course.

When meals arrive at different times, suggest that those that have received food start eating.

If an error is made by the waitstaff or kitchen, tell the guest you will handle it, then speak to the waiter politely.

Don't discuss the price of the meal when paying the check.

Guest Etiquette

  • If you arrive before the host and are seated at the table, do not order anything except water.
  • Do not criticize the location of the table. It is up to the host to suggest a change to the maitre d'.
  • Drink orders should be consistent with other orders at the table. If the host orders a drink, order a beverage as well.
  • Don't order the most expensive item on the menu. Order something priced in the same range as the orders of the other guests' orders. When the menu does not have prices, remember that pasta, chicken, and pork dishes are generally less expensive than seafood or beef.
  • Send food back only if something is very wrong.
  • Don't complain about anything.
  • Guests are responsible for tipping the coat check person (if there is a coat check room).

- , Editor, Etiquette Scholar

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