‘Tis the season to attend holiday gatherings. Take advantage of the chance to network and celebrate with colleagues, but be sure to mind your manners. The tips below will demonstrate that you are a polished professional.
Look to the hosts for cues. Only bring guests if you were invited to do so and included them in the RSVP. If you are at a restaurant, ask him or her to suggest menu items, which indicate your spending limit.
Only order alcohol if your hosts do. If the event involves an open bar, drink in moderation. You would hate to be the topic of discussion on Monday morning.
Keep the table linen clean. Place your napkin on the table instead of your plate when you are finished. If you need to excuse yourself during the meal, place it on the seat of your chair. Personal belongings such as purses, keys, mobile devices or gloves do not belong on the table. Do not stack any plates when you are finished.
Understand bread basics. Instead of placing butter directly onto a roll, place it on the bread plate, and then butter one piece at a time. Break the bread rather than cutting it. You can determine which drinking glass or bread plate is yours by making the letters “b” and “d” with your hands. Your left hand naturally forms the letter “b,” reminding you that the bread plate is to your left. Similarly, your drink is to the right.
Navigate the place setting. If you’ve seen the films Pretty Woman or Princess Diaries, you know that the plethora of silverware on a formal dining table can be a bit tricky. Usually the salad is served before the main course, so you can start with the fork furthest from the left of your plate. When you are not using your knife, rest it on the top of your plate with the blade toward you. Do not leave spoons in dishes or cups. Use a saucer or plate instead.
Conquer the conversations, instead of the food. Devouring or overloading on food only implies that you are a glutton. The size of your hors d’oeuvre plate indicates an appropriate amount of food. If you decide to pass on food being offered, simply say, “No thanks.” No explanation is needed.
During the event, take advantage of the chance to talk to colleagues or executives with whom you might not otherwise speak. Learn more about introducing yourself. Avoid complaining about work or discussing contentious topics, such as politics, money and religion. Carry your drink in your left hand, leaving your right free for shaking.
Select any gifts carefully. If you choose to acknowledge hosts with a gift, keep it simple. Common gifts include flowers, a bottle of wine or a homemade treat. At a minimum, remember to thank the hosts for their hospitality. Stay in the price range if the party involves a gift exchange and avoid anything risqué.
By using these simple principles you will make a lasting positive impression that gives you another reason to celebrate this holiday.
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