Friday, February 10, 2012

A Guide to Being Classy (While Eating)

Years ago, in order to ascertain the pledges’ social savvy, fraternities gave them olives but did not provide them with a place to put their pits. While pledging has changed since then, it is good to have a couple tricks up your sleeve to be able to manage cocktail parties and events that serve food so you can remain as elegant as ever.

When you arrive, do not head straight to the hors d’oeuvres table. The purpose of any social function is to make connections and foster conversation. When you do arrive at the bar or food station, do not linger. Choose a couple of hors d’oeuvres and move on. Concentrate on meeting and listening to people rather than eating your way through the queso. You do not go to a cocktail party expecting to eat dinner. Of course, you should not drink alcohol on an empty stomach, and you should not drink so much as to become inebriated. You will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Lastly, when you do have hors d’oeuvres or something to drink, keep your right hand free to be able to shake hands with someone. It is always awkward to juggle food and drink during introductions.

Quick Food Tip:

  • If food is provided on toothpicks or cocktail sticks, do not leave the sticks on the table or, even worse, on the serving tray. If no containers are available for the sticks, wrap them in your napkin and dispose of them.
  • Try to avoid filling your plate to the brim. While people do not mind multiple trips to the cocktail bar, they do notice the person who loads up his cocktail plate. 
  • Never re-dip any food. Regardless of whether it is crudités or a shrimp or a potato chip, never put that piece of food back into the sauce or dip after you have taken a bite.
  • Bite carefully into puff pastries and cherry tomatoes to avoid messes. 
  • Finally, if you discover that your hors d’oeuvre has a terrible taste, discreetly transfer it from your mouth to your napkin and find a trashcan immediately. You don’t want to meet the man or woman of your dreams while holding a wad of chewed food.

Ultimately, when at any sort of social function, remember to be confident and have a positive attitude. Cocktail etiquette should never overshadow your experience and with these tips, you can be tasteful and chic while eating. Oh, and the last tip: Olives with pits are eaten in several bits and then discarded on the side of the plate or a napkin.

-Liz Elder (photo courtesy of fibroblast)

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