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Men’s Style and Grooming by Yatan Ahluwalia: Entertaining etiquettes

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Decoding the lead look

Hair: Medium length all around with a neat parting and raised top.

Brows: Thick and natural.

Face: Clean shaved, smooth, clear, and hydrated skin.

Lips: Clean shaved, clear, and smooth with a chiselled jawline.

Others: Fitted blue, square neck top and pastel blue denims.

The dinner party is back and is as glamorous as sitting around a table at home gets. It’s time for drinks, good food, flowers, music, low lights and to use your statement glassware, serve ware and cutlery. Here’s how to be a courteous host or a gracious guest.

The five commandments

Guests

Never show up if you have not been invited. If going with someone, they must inform the host in advance.

Take a thoughtful or personalised gift. When in doubt, carry flowers or a bottle of a good beverage.

Always follow the house rules and respect the hosts customs, culture, and beliefs.

Limit the use of your phone. Less is more and no phone use is ideal.

Help however you can. Unhelpful guests are rarely invited back and never make an impression.

Hosts

Ensure you have sufficient space and seating to host the number of people you are inviting.

Create the right ambience and set up the décor based on the time, place, and occasion. A gentle playlist and ambient lighting are always a good idea.

Always greet at the door and make people feel welcome.

Check that there are enough beverages, snacks, and food to everyone’s liking and taste. Ask guests in advance if they have any dietary restrictions and plan accordingly.

Circulate between guests and give each one the same amount of time and attention. Be both the leader and the spark of the evening.

The details

Arriving

Hosts: Pair the right people together. This is both an art and a skill. You don’t want to invite someone who does not fit into the group or who will feel left out. Ask guests to be there at the same time so the evening builds together for everyone. People who arrive late may feel they are intruding a group and are not at the same vibe as everyone else already is.

Ensure to introduce everyone to each other. You are expected to make everyone talk to each other. Ensure the seating has been well thought of and the right people are sitting next to each other in the living room or at the dining table. Better still, when inviting a group of strangers together you must try and ensure the guests have something in common or will get along with each other.

Guests: If it’s a formal setting, be there on time and follow the indicated dress code. You can arrive ‘fashionably late’ by about 20 minutes to a more casual occasion. However large the gathering, make it a point to let your host know when you have arrived.

Exchange pleasantries with the host when you meet them – telling them that you made it a point to be there, even though you are on a tight schedule will make them feel both important and wanted.

Conversations

Hosts: Make it a point to keep the conversations as light and neutral as possible. Sensitive topics and issues are best avoided to avoid heated arguments and loud voices in the room. This may include, but is not limited to politics, religion, morals, and sexuality.

Try and make the guests speak to each other. This is both important and mandatory and reflects on your social skills. However if you find two people or a group aren’t vibing well, then ensure to gently separate them without making it too obvious.

Guests: When you meet someone new, keep your conversation pleasant, short, and brief and make sure to introduce yourself. If you know whom you are talking too, don’t pretend not to. Acknowledging someone or what they do or may have recently achieved – will always earn you brownie points.

It’s a good idea to show enthusiasm while talking to new people. Without being intrusive, ask them what they do, a little about their background or work. Reciprocate by telling them about yourself as well.

However close you may be to the host or to someone you have invited, ensure to mix, and mingle in the group. A few minutes of a one on one chat is good, but anything longer indicates you aren’t keen to talk to other people.

Food & drink

Hosts: Stay as alert and focused as you can on everyone and their needs. Offer refills, second helpings gently and as genuinely as possible. Having said that, if you notice anyone feeling uneasy or crossing their drinking threshold, then gently offer them a coffee or water and avoid topping their glasses or plates too frequently.

Guests: Never drink more than you should. Parties are not the place to let your hair or your guard down. At a small table of only two to four people, wait until everyone else has been served before starting to eat. Not eating (even if you are on a diet) indicates that you are uncomfortable being there or with what the host has laid out for you. Taking a couple of bites to make people happy, never really hurt anyone. Talking about the food is always a good idea, like what it contains, how it’s made, and it’s been plated or served.

The ending

Hosts: Place your napkin back on the table or stand up to gently gesture a closing. Make subtle suggestions when you want to call it a night. As the host, thank everyone personally for coming over and making it a great evening (or get together). If there’s been a lot of alcohol served, do check if your guests have a driver and aren’t driving on their own if they are intoxicated beyond a point.

Guests: Make it a point to stay for as long as you are expected too, but don’t ever be the first or last one to leave (unless of course the host specifically asks you stay on). Always compliment your host for the food, décor, or the setup – even if you notice shortcomings. People will always remember your parting words and they must therefore always be pleasant.

Stylish entertaining accessories to impress your guests and their protocol:

Cookware

These heavy duty pans look great and have excellent health benefits. (The chemical free cast iron cookware set by The Indus Valley)
These heavy duty pans look great and have excellent health benefits. (The chemical free cast iron cookware set by The Indus Valley)

If you like to entertain in the kitchen, ensure the cookware you use is well maintained and makes a statement. A seasoned set of cast iron pans is naturally non-stick, provides even heat and increases iron intake (which is great for the hair & body). Without coming in the way, offer to help the host if the party is casual and starting in the kitchen.

The Bar

The tools

This smart personalised bar set comes fully loaded for you to become the best in house mixologist and bar tender. (The 36 piece bartender wooden crate in vintage blue by Bar Box)
This smart personalised bar set comes fully loaded for you to become the best in house mixologist and bar tender. (The 36 piece bartender wooden crate in vintage blue by Bar Box)

The bar is where the party or an evening kicks off. Ensure you have everything you need to make the right drinks, cocktails or mocktails. Guests must attend to others before themselves.

The champagne bucket

After serving, place the bottle gently into your Champagne bucket. This will keep it nice and cool until you are ready for some more. (The large, multi-bottle, stainless steel champagne bucket by Amoliconcepts)
After serving, place the bottle gently into your Champagne bucket. This will keep it nice and cool until you are ready for some more. (The large, multi-bottle, stainless steel champagne bucket by Amoliconcepts)

Presenting Champagne in a bucket is a sure way to impress. Fill it with half ice and half water. You might consider draping a folded white napkin over the side of the bucket, but in a casual setting this really isn’t necessary.

Glassware

Whiskey

Do justice to your collection of single malts and fine whiskies with this eye catching glassware set. (The finely crafted decanter and whiskey set by Luigi Bormioli on thinKitchen)
Do justice to your collection of single malts and fine whiskies with this eye catching glassware set. (The finely crafted decanter and whiskey set by Luigi Bormioli on thinKitchen)

Hold your whiskey glass by the rim when you decide to have a scotch on the rocks. Let the rest of your fingers hover in the air. This grip gives you a more controlled swirl than holding the glass by the foot.

Beer mugs

These stoneware mugs with a matt glaze finish will add an earthy and artistic touch to drinks. (Handmade ceramic beer mug by The Orby House)
These stoneware mugs with a matt glaze finish will add an earthy and artistic touch to drinks. (Handmade ceramic beer mug by The Orby House)

In order to get the right amount of creamy foam that forms at the top of the beer which adds to the taste, always tilt your glass and pour your beer at an angle of 45 degrees, so that cream bubbles to the top. 

Pouring beer

Good beers should be served in the bottle with an empty glass, which lets the drinker control how much he pours and the head on the beer. (Six Fields Blanche by DeVANS)
Good beers should be served in the bottle with an empty glass, which lets the drinker control how much he pours and the head on the beer. (Six Fields Blanche by DeVANS)

Wheat beer has the potential to minimise muscle inflammation. It contains vitamin B, which is essential and has a mild sweet taste. What’s left over in the bottle, can always be used as a great conditioner for your hair, the morning after.

Serve Ware

The fruit bowl

This unusual dark concrete bowl is great as a centrepiece on the dining table. (Nonagon multipurpose and multifaceted bowl by Greyt)
This unusual dark concrete bowl is great as a centrepiece on the dining table. (Nonagon multipurpose and multifaceted bowl by Greyt)

A fruit bowl on the dining table always looks inviting when its full and styled well. This is a great way to set the theme for the meal. Ensure the fruit is as fresh as possible and good enough to eat, even though as a guest its best to stick to what’s being served.

Tableware

The setting

Always place the tableware in the order of use, from the outside in. (The eye catching hand decalled, Tuhina porcelain tableware by Fabindia will make a great impression)
Always place the tableware in the order of use, from the outside in. (The eye catching hand decalled, Tuhina porcelain tableware by Fabindia will make a great impression)

Place the mat on your lap before you begin eating. Chewing with your mouth closed and not talking when your mouth is full are two cardinal rules of good table manners. Yes, elbows can go on the table, but only between courses and not while you are eating.

Plating

This forest themed set of bone china dinner plates with 24 carat gold decal is sure to be a conversation starter. (The beautiful Pichola dinner plates by IRA, Udaipur)
This forest themed set of bone china dinner plates with 24 carat gold decal is sure to be a conversation starter. (The beautiful Pichola dinner plates by IRA, Udaipur)

We first eat with our eyes, then taste with our mouth. For special people and occasions, plate your food on serve ware which makes a style statement. Ensure the cutlery you use, matches the plates. Never scrape the plate or make too much sound with the cutlery.

The author is an image, style, grooming and etiquette consultant and trainer.

From HT Brunch, October 8, 2022

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