Festive Dining Etiquette: Top 7 Tips for Holiday Celebrations

Festive Dining Etiquette: Top 7 Tips for Holiday Celebrations

As we gear up for the holiday season, where food and celebration harmonise, here are my top seven dining tips to ensure your festive gatherings are not just delicious but also sprinkled with a touch of gracious dining etiquette:

Silverware can be confusing, especially when multiple courses are on the menu. However, these is an easy trick to follow: Simply start with the silverware furthest away from the plate and work your way in. The only exception is the dessert silverware which is usually placed above the plate. 

Place your napkin on your lap right upon seating, do not wait for the first course to arrive. Use it for gentle blotting of your mouth and after-course dabbing, but avoid tucking it into your collar or using it as a tissue.

Wine can enhance and accompany a delicious dish, but it can also affect the taste negatively if paired incorrectly. A rule of thumb is to always serve lighter meals (fish, poultry or salads) with white wine and richer meals (red meat) with red wine. Desserts can be accompanied with sweet dessert wines. 

If you’re hosting a dinner, you can serve an uplifting aperitif before the meal to prepare your guests’ taste buds for the delicious upcoming menu. An aperitif is usually lighter and clear in colour - such as champagne, Martini or gin. A digestif is then served after the meal, to help your guests wind down. Unlike aperitif, a digestif is usually heavier and dark in colour - such as brandy, cognac or herbal tea (as a non-alcoholic option).

When setting a table, remember to place the bread plate to the left of the main plate and the drinks (water, wine) to the right of the plate. The majority of people are right-handed and subconsciously reach for the drinks with their right hand. This way, you avoid your guests ‘‘stealing’’ each others’ glasses.

‘‘Elbows off the table!’’ You might have heard it many times. Now, as much as many festive dinners do allow for more relaxed and casual atmosphere, we should still refrain from placing our elbows on the table. The reason is simple: if we place our elbows on the table, we block the eye contact between the guests seated on our left and right side, making the conversation more complicated.

Pay attention to the pacing of the meal, allowing time for conversations between courses. A shared dinner is not about eating the served food as fast as possible, but on the contrary, sharing the moment and indulging in the conversation and festive atmosphere.

If you wish to become confident at any dining venue and navigate every culinary occasion with ease, let me teach you dining etiquette from A to Z in my practical ebook. As a bonus, you will receive a FREE guide on how to tame tricky foods such as shrimp, oysters or escargot.

May your holiday festivities be filled with delightful flavours, warm conversations, and an ambiance embraced by etiquette and joyous moments.
Happy Holidays!

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