This morning, while wandering about the internet; with the morning news on the TV for a little background noise, it came to my attention via Social Media and a fluff news piece that we now need to be instructed in how to behave as a dinner guest. To say that this “news flash” blows my mind is an understatement. So much of what was out there on the subject is common sense and good manners. I shutter to think what we have become that social media and the news needs to instruct us in proper behavior.
- RSVP. While the importance of an RSVP wasn’t covered directly (yes, no, and how many), the need to respond was touched upon in a strange, indirect way. A good guest alerts their host of any dietary restriction well in advance so that the menu can be planned accordingly. Things such as gluten-Free preferences; vegan dietary needs or food allergies should be brought to the host’s attention. Now food allergies and some dietary restrictions makes good sense. I am a diabetic. I am also lactose indolent, and have difficulty processing foods that are high in potassium. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems rather selfish to expect the host to cater to my particular needs. Heck, I don’t even cater to my particular needs, why should I expect others to adjust their Thanksgiving traditions accordingly. Rather, I pick and choose what to eat and how much to eat. Can you imagine if all your guests responded with a list of what they could/would and could not/would not eat? You’d go nuts!
- ASK IF THERE IS ANYTHING YOU CAN BRING/DO. These days, that’s just good manners. I cannot imagine being invited to a friend’s home for dinner and not asking “is there anything I can bring?” Granted, at a formal affair, such a question might be considered rude, but a homey gathering of friends and family, it should be a part of the “count me in” response. The advise took it this one step further. When bringing a dish, bring a way to serve it. Really? Again, common sense. This “common sense” rule is a two-way street. If your guests are traveling; don’t ask them to bring the mashed potatoes for goodness sake. On the other hand, if your traveling guest is famous for their awesome gravy; it wouldn’t be out of the question to suggest they make the gray upon their arrival. Just be sure to have whatever they need on-hand and not expect them to bring the pots and gravy fixings on the plane with them. (Can you imagine going through air port security with a sauce pot and giblets tucked away in your carry-on?)
- Bring your host a gift. Once upon a time, this would have gone without saying. A nice bottle of wine, a simple flower arrangement in a vase, a tin of cookies, home made jams, a basket of imported cheese – once upon a time arriving with a gift in hand was the norm. Today we need to be told to show our appreciation for the invite rather than simply “showing up.”
- Don’t show up too early or too late. Most of the invites I send/receive include this some guidelines such as “We plan to serve dinner at 5:00. You’re more than welcome to arrive anytime after 3:00.” This indicates to your guests that there will be time for socializing prior to the main event. Thanksgiving preparation tends to be extensive and very busy for those hosting the dinner. Unless you are there to “help”, showing up too early can be viewed as a bothersome intrusion. Again, the advise took this one step further. NEVER ARRIVE MORE THAN 45 MINUTES LATE. Really? Since when is forty-five minutes late to a dinner party acceptable? I’m sorry, folks but that’s just plain rude. It’s one thing to split your time between the in-laws, having dinner at one home and dessert at another. We’ve all been there, done that. But if someone is expecting you to show up at a predetermined time – show up!
- Be an attentive guest and avoid your phone. OMG! Unless your job requires you to be reachable at all time (say a doctor or priest for example) or circumstance warrant it (my sister/daughter in another town is having a baby) nothing is more important than the people around you at that moment. It boggles the mind to think “a good guest should avoid checking their e-mails during dinner” needs to be said. Unplug for goodness sake!
- Don’t complain. Again, I must ask – really? Who are these people? Do we need to be told not to hurt the feelings of our host? Don’t we know that it’s insensitive to say to someone who was gracious enough to open their hearts and their home to us “well, my dear, the bird was a bit dry”. What have our social skills come to when we need to be told not to complain?
- Remember to say Thank you. I repeat – remember to say thank you. The fact that this is on the list of tips speaks volumes as to just what the world has become. I don’t know about you, but I was taught from a very early age (as in old enough to speak at all) that you should always say “Please” and “Thank you.”
I don’t know what bothers me more – that we, as adults, need to be told these things or that we are getting our instructions from social media. Which leads me to ask this all important question – is there an app for our smart phones for manners?