5 Things You Should Never Do When Hosting People in Your Dining Room
These mistakes can cause problems for your next dinner party.
Hosting is a huge responsibility no matter what, but you add another level of concern when you pick the dining room for your party's setting. While you'll no longer have to worry about your guests roaming around your house, you will instead need to think about what food you're serving, where everyone will sit, and how to facilitate conversation between eating. And even if you feel like you're ready for your next dinner party, there's likely something you've forgotten. Talking to etiquette experts, we gathered insight into the common mistakes people often make in this situation. Read on to find out what five things they say you should never do when hosting people in your dining room.
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Make assumptions about people's food allergies.
If you're pretty close with the guests you're inviting to your dining room soirée, you might assume you'd already know about any food allergies. But this is a potentially risky mistake that hosts should always avoid, according to Max Tucci, a hosting expert and author of The Delmonico Way: Sublime Entertaining & Legendary Recipes from the Restaurant that Made New York.
"Never assume your guests do not have food allergies," he warns. "Checking with your guests to make sure they do not have a food allergy is considerate and can potentially save your guests from having a miserable experience."
Put out centerpieces that are too high.
Many people don't realize they need to consider the height of their dining table decorations before guests arrive. But etiquette experts DeAnna Kane and Leslie Callaway, who co-founded Heart of Hospitality together, tell Best Life that hosts should always make sure their centerpieces are chin-high or lower.
"Nothing is more frustrating for guests who are trying to listen to a guest across the table and they have to crane their neck around a floral arrangement," they explain. "Instead of creating a beautiful environment of floral beauty, it will only serve as a distraction."
Seat guests who don't get along next to each other.
You don't need to be playing mediator at your next gathering—so avoid seating a guest next to someone they do not like, Tucci advises. "Having guests that aren't fond of one another sit next to each other is a guaranteed recipe for a disastrous gathering."
Instead, you should create a seating chart beforehand that ensures everyone is sitting next to someone they could potentially strike up a good conversation with. "Make sure you have name cards placed before your guests arrive," Tucci adds.
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Offer only one type of beverage.
Maybe you're making a signature cocktail to serve at your dinner. Or perhaps you're planning to pop some champagne for the celebration. Either way, this shouldn't be your only beverage option, says Jodi Smith, an etiquette consultant and owner of Mannersmith. "Always have alternative drinks to offer," she recommends. "Not all guests will be able to have alcohol."
Water can be one of the alternatives offered, but you shouldn't stop there. "Be sure to have something festive and non-alcoholic to offer," Smith says. "Sparking juices, sodas, or bubbly water are all good options."
Create an unappealing atmosphere.
When serving food, the atmosphere of your hosting space is of the utmost importance. This means you should leave the scented candles out of your dining room, according to Kane and Callaway.
"Smell often affects how things taste, and after spending all the time preparing your meal, or working with a chef to serve just the right foods, you don't want to leave a sour taste in someone's mouth from scented candles," they explain. Instead, opt for battery-operated candles or non-scented beeswax candles.
Tucci says there are other factors you should consider that could create an unappealing atmosphere for your guests.
"Make sure all of the lightbulbs in your dining room are in working order and that the temperature is perfect for the season," he advises. "Also, never have your music play louder than your guests' conversations. Music should always be played at a low volume and be considerate of the theme of the evening."