A Proper Dinner Party

Rules as suggested by ~Enquire Within Upon Everything~

Now hosting a dinner party can be stressful business. You have to organize invitations, food, entertainment and alert your family circle to the proper rules of etiquette expected at your gathering.

Or at least those are the steps involved if your dinner party is being held in London in 1894. But surely 1894 isn’t that far away from today? How much could have changed in dinner party etiquette since then?

To start: What is your family circle? It is simply the family and friends who you hold gatherings with every Friday night. It is suggested that you can save yourself some trouble by sending them these rules with their invitation.

Rule #1: Meetings should be made up of conversation, music, dancing, and card playing. They should take place between 7PM and 12AM.

  • This rule is clear, the only thing any of us do at a small dinner party is to dance and play cards until 12 AM sharp.

Rule #2: As gentlemen are allowed to “like the raven” wear only black suits for the whole year, women are to have the same privilege.

  • Ah, I see that the times may have changed more than I thought. This suggests that women can wear the same dress to multiple events, something that is unfortunately out of favour today.

Rule #3: Every guest should bring, if possible, a form of dance music (their voice or an instrument). They also should take it with them when they go.

Rule #4: Everyone capable of playing, dancing, or singing must preform for the group unless they have a medical certificate. (No medical excuse should last more than two weeks)

Rule #5: Anyone who can play or sing but is too shy should be kindly criticized and encouraged until they do so.

  • I have grouped these together as they address the classic problem of inviting your piano playing friend to a party only to have them refuse to play and then leave behind their piano. It’s happens to us all. If someone turns up at your party insisting they are ill and unable to sing you must insist they provide a doctors note, how else will you trust your close family friends?

Rule #6: To avoid breaking the bank on this party just provide cold meat, sandwiches, bread, cheese, butter, vegetables, fruits, coffee, and tea.

  • I can’t think of anything one would desire more than cold meat and apple slices at a dinner party.

Rule #7: Any toast or speeches must be planned in advance of the party to avoid everyone’s hopes of a secret engagement.

  • Any time you raise a glass to give a speech everyone assumes you are going to reveal a grand secret. You’ve gotten engaged. You are secretly married. Or it was the butler in the library who murdered the Count last Tuesday. Whatever your speech truly consists of it is much too stressful for all the other guests to have a series of surprise toasts.

And so ends our dinner party rules. Simply print out this list, perhaps adding your own rules, and include it in your next set of invitations.

As a bonus here are a few quotes of extra advice:

” Never appear in the drawing room without your boots”

“Always wear gloves:

“Hold your hat in your hand or lay it carefully beside you”

“Do not mix a summer bonnet with a winter dress”

“Avoid the extremes of fashion”

And finally “If you have a hobby, keep it to yourself”


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