madison cheat sheet: how to be the perfect dinner guest
If you want to be a memorable dinner guest (for all the right reasons), you need to hold a subtle balance between charm, elegance, humour and ease. All sound too hard? Well here is madison’s cheat sheet to help your social success at your next get together.
• It is common courtesy to ask the host or hostess of a dinner party if you can bring anything to the meal. Most often they will decline, but you still wish to take something to show appreciation. Wine is the best thing to bring when you are told to bring nothing, failing this, a nicely presented cheese plate or box of after dinner chocolates are also sure to go down well.
• Try to avoid invading the kitchen space, you are not the host and although they may not tell you in as many words to remove yourself from the work area, chances are you are probably getting in the way.
If you want to be a perfect dinner guest you need to be actively involved in conversation. Ask open questions and give detailed answers, laugh politely at jokes but do not attempt to be humorous outside your natural self.
If you get caught in an awkward silence, or just want to avoid them, we have some conversation starters that are guaranteed to get the mouths moving on other guests:
… About Raf’s first range for Dior. Former Jil Sander designer Raf Simmons showed his debut collection for Dior at Paris Fashion Week, hailed as a raging success. In a nutshell, there were black suits, neck-ties, iridescent chiffon dresses and floral motifs. Use words like ‘disciplined,’ ‘referential’ and ‘romantic’ for extra cred.
… About the carbon tax. Since July, some of our biggest carbon emitters pay a tax of $23 per tonne of pollution they’re responsible for. Argument against: Small businesses and households are the ones who suffer as big businesses pass the costs on. We contribute 1.4 per cent of global emissions so are small in the scheme of things. Argument for: we’re leading the world with this policy and making big businesses accountable for what they’re doing to the environment. Kudos to Gillard for taking the lead.
... And what to avoid. Part of being the perfect dinner guest is knowing what to avoid during conversation. Steer clear of talking about religion, politics, money, relationships, family problems or health problems.
The dos and don’ts of table conversation
- Be aware of body language; it tells you a person’s level of boredom, if they’re uncomfortable with a certain topic and lets you change conversation accordingly.
-Return the question asked. People like to talk about themselves (whether they realise it or not) because they are the person they know most about, and this keeps the conversation flowing smoothly.
- Upstage others by saying you know a funnier/ better story than the one they just told.
- Swear or talk over loudly.
-Answer questions with a yes or no answer as this stops conversation flow.
Word by Alette Winfield
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