Ask Mr. Manners

Classy is as classy does

As we enter into January, a common occurrence is sitting down to plan resolutions. New gym memberships and workout plans are purchased, vows are made, and we all hope that the new us will be what we need to be successful in the New Year. Being in this season of change, I would like to start the New Year with answering questions from readers and helping you all to find a little class and etiquette along the way to personal betterment.

Dear Mr. Manners, 

I need some advice. My mother is coming to visit and I want to throw a dinner party for her. I want to break out all the fancy china and show her the best Salt Lake has to offer. She’s a classy gal and I want a party to match. The problem is most of my friends aren’t quite as refined as she and the normal parties at my house are burgers and hot dogs. How do I ask my friends to behave and dress up without offending anyone? 

 – Dinner Party in Salt Lake


Dear Dinner Party,

Let me begin by saying the host sets the event expectations. A host invites according to the nature of the evening. Every great party I have ever been to began with an invitation. Not a text message or a Facebook invite, but a real (printed on card stock) invitation. All of the party details and evening expectations were there and clear to understand and decipher. Everyone knew what they were getting themselves into. Perhaps this is the best method for you to approach your party. When dealing with my mother, I have found that classy tends to be accompanied by “sassy” and maybe your lady would enjoy a chance to see an invitation in her honor. You can never go wrong with an invitation.

When faced with having to bring your friends up to par, honesty is always the best policy. I have found great success with offering events as social experiments. Print up your invitations, set the expectations up front and offer the event as a chance to dress up and enjoy an evening unlike those you are accustomed to. If you make it something to look forward to, they will rise to the occasion so that they don’t feel left out at the dinner table. There is nothing like that feeling of being the one who is under-dressed  or under- mannered.

A final thought on entertaining is that a gentleman understands the delicate interplay between friends and acquaintances. Make sure that as you are making the guest list, you analyze the temperaments of those in attendance and keep all involved in check. Politeness is a gentleman’s constant, and in addition to the rules of engagement, make sure that you play close attention to the rules of the table. You may be in your own home, but if the etiquette associated with the fork and knife feels constricting, drop the attitude, not the manners. For we all know, even if it is deep down, that, manners maketh the man.

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