How to Serve at a Dinner Party 2021


Which way should you pass the plates? How should you clear the table? Serving at a dinner party isn't exactly as easy as pie. Here are some basic guidelines to help you out in your next dinner party.


1Place easy, general dishes on the table for guests to help themselves to. Steamed or roasted vegetables, rice, salad, potatoes, and condiments are some of the things you can usually leave in the middle of the table for guests to help themselves to. This isn't strictly necessary, though. If you prefer to keep things simple, you don't have to leave anything more than salt and pepper on the table.

2Put complicated, delicate and artistic food on the plates in the kitchen. This is known as"plating-up."Don't expect guests to help themselves to food that requires assembly or is difficult to manage. The only way they'll get to see your creativity is if you put it out on the plate for them before you even get to the dinner table. Keep the rim of the plate clear of sauces, spills, anything; it frames the food.

3Decide on your serving order. Traditionally it was customary to serve women first (eldest to youngest), then the men (same order). You can do this if you want to keep with tradition and the occasion is quite formal. Otherwise, choose one end of the table and move around it in a clockwise fashion, regardless of the genders of your guests.

4Pass all dishes from the left. Guests and servers should pass dishes from left. The logic behind this is that most people are right-handed and this allows them them to serve themselves from the dish while it is being held by the passer. Nowadays it is less likely that the passer will continue to hold the dish, but will expect you to take it, so if you are left-handed, it won't be a problem. Place the dish down on your side plate to serve from it.

5Keep the courses rolling. It isn't a good idea to make guests wait too long between courses. They'll get fidgety, anxious and gossipy about what you're doing.

6Amaze guests with your knowledge. Don't hesitate to tell them some interesting and brief details about the time-old recipe you've used and why the wine complements the meal so well. On the other hand, do not ever go into details about how the flesh portion of the meal was hunted/killed. This is bad taste and makes some guests very queasy. Leave it for discussion around the fireplace with a like-minded friend after dinner.

7Clear only two plates at a time, from the right. The host or hired help should clear no more than two plates at a time to avoid bumping guests and interfering with their eating. There is nothing more annoying than the server's elbows in your face when you're just about to take the next bite.

8Clean plates out of sight. The place for scraping off the leftovers is the kitchen, not the dining table. Preferably the noises should not reach the guests but this is unrealistic for most homes. Just do it as quietly as possible and try not to clank, crack, break or drop the dishes. The last thing you need on top of anything else is a dropped plate to clean up.

9Remove main course dishes before bringing out dessert. This means all the dishes on the table, the condiments and the side plates. If you haven't already set out the dessert spoons, this is the time to do so.

10Serve cream, dessert toppings and sugar from the left. Chocolates will have their own method of getting around the table; it has been suspected they have legs...

11As the cook, or host, always serve yourself last. This is polite and also sensible, since you'll probably be busy anyway with host's duties.

12Don't be afraid to ask for help. Except for the most formal occasions, it's not unheard of to ask a close friend at the party to help you serve. Don't take advantage of the situation because that guest is there to enjoy himself too but don't hesitate to ask for a quick hand with a simple task that won't risk spills on their clothes.