Live well

The guide to social manners and etiquette

The power of good manners is not to be underestimated. In a world where everyone is racing against time, taking a few minutes out to extend some courtesy goes a long way. Championing the cause of good manners and etiquette is grooming expert Rukshana Eisa who shows how good manners come in handy in everyday life. In our exclusive four-part series, Eisa takes you through the code of conduct that you should be following in your professional and romantic life.

In the last and final part of our etiquette series, grooming and etiquette expert Rukshana Eisa takes us through the do’s and don’ts of different social situations from dining at a restaurant to having friends over.

If you’re invited to someone’s home for dinner
It is always a lovely gesture to bring your host a little something as opposed to turning up empty-handed. Inquire what the occasion is when you receive the invitation so that you can pick an appropriate gift. Also, keep your hosts’ preference in mind, so avoid taking a bottle of wine for a teetotaller. Chocolates are always a safer option. If the household is well-staffed or if there is professional catering staff helping out then you need not offer help. If, however, it is a small gathering and your host is managing all by him/herself with minimum staff, you could always politely offer to help. In our culture, we treat our guests no less than gods, so it is very likely that you will not be expected to help, but offering nonetheless shows perfect etiquette and manners.

If you invite friends over
You should ideally be ready half an hour before your guests are scheduled to arrive. This means having the air conditioner turned on, the table laid out and the food and drinks set up. The best way to greet your friends is to be at the door when they arrive so that you can usher them in and make the welcome seem more personal. Also, make sure to make introductions so that people find it easy to mingle with one another.

Planning the menu
Make a note of people’s food and beverage preferences while planning the menu. Also, inquire about food allergies. Go with a tried and tested menu as most people are not very experimental with their food. Strike the right balance with sweet, spicy and savoury dishes so that there is something to please everyone’s palate. Most importantly, the food should be served hot and should look appetising. Also, be sure not run out and always order a bit extra to be on the safe side.

Dealing with drunken guests
People always tend to drink more than they should at parties. If you have a drunk guest on your hands, you should deal with the situation promptly before things get out of hand and ruin the evening for you as well as your guests. One way to do that is to serve enough snacks with the drinks so people aren’t drinking too much on an empty stomach. Also, serve dinner at an appropriate time so that people can start eating at a decent hour and not have a prolonged drinking session. If the drunk guest is a close friend, you could discreetly take them aside and also warn them that they have had enough!

Who should pick up the tab?
The host will usually pay the bill. If you have been invited, then the person hosting you will be paying the bill so you really need not argue over who is going to pay! When going out for a casual meal with friends, the bill should be divided up equally amongst all the people. If you thanked your host in person at the end of the meal then a follow up message isn’t required. However, if you did have an exceptionally good time and your host was extremely gracious and generous and went out of their way to make it an extremely memorable evening a second thank you message would be greatly appreciated!

Rukshana Eisa is the founder and Managing Director of Image Inc, the Grooming and Etiquette school and author of THE GOLDEN CODE: Mastering The Art Of Social Success. She has been one of the official grooming and etiquette instructors at the Miss India training program for over a decade and worked with brand like IL&FS, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Star TV, ITC group of hotels and L’Oreal among others.


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