Dining with superiors or potential clients can be intimidating, especially if your experience has been dining with family and friends only. Playing host or hostess for business requires some social finesse. Just enough finesse to get you from the hello stage to goodnight with some semblance of confidence. Here are a few etiquette tips to boost your confidence to perform hosting duty.
Rise to greet your guests in a restaurant, and greet guests at the door.
In order to rise from your seat in a restaurant, you have to get their first as the host. Take the time to apprise the restaurant’s host or maître d’hotel of your guest’s name, and share that they are expected.
At home, position yourself near the door to personally greet your guest of honor. Be as close to the door as possible to welcome your guest into your home, take their coat, and offer them a drink or appetizer. Be nearby to consider their comfort.
Seat your guest next to you at the dinner table.
This only applies if you are hosting a dinner party. If they are seated next to you, then you have the ability to monitor their comfort. If dining in a restaurant, the same applies with one exception. If there are only two of you, then sit across from your guest to converse freely.
Keep conversation safe and pleasant.
The host is responsible for starting conversations to put everyone in the room and at the table at-ease. During cocktail hour, simply introduce everyone as you take their drink orders or as you pass a tray of hors d’oeuvres. Before everyone arrives, think of common threads and commonalities to express during introductions. Be attentive to your guest(s) but also encourage group engagement.
As your guests are being served, simply tell them to begin eating.
Not everyone knows you are to wait for the host to be served, but in the event your guests know, give them a polite nod to begin eating. The point is to avoid a prolonged process of service. The host is served last.
Create a mood for after dinner socializing.
Not everyone knows that once the host is finished dining, they are to be finished. You do not have to make it obvious that you are finished. Give them an opportunity to savor the meal. Once it is obvious that everyone is finished, then adjourn them to a room in your home to continue socializing.
Change the music, offer a digestif (drink), and continue hosting with conversation and above all, comfort.
One last thing: Ask each guest if you can order car service for them, whether they have driven themselves or not. Be prepared to send someone home via Lyft or Uber, taxi or limo. This is a caring courtesy.
Send a note of thanks to each guest the next day, if you prefer a handwritten note or email, it does not matter. Simply say thank you for being a guest.