Manners: The ‘Family and Friends’ Social

Ah yes…summertime.

A time filled with family, fun and friends and time to laugh, and plan social gatherings all season long to enjoy the beautiful weather. But, what is a host to do about that one person, who for one reason or another, just doesn’t seem to understand “take all you want” doesn’t mean take enough for you and your neighbors until the next year to come?

Often times when planning a social gathering some guests may get a little carried away with the “to-go” or left-over plates. Perhaps, there’s a dish, or two, that is a favorite and the host openly expresses if there’s any leftovers, for guests to please help themselves. However, when the host says to take any food that may be left over, it’s not a sign for guests to take as much as their car can hold while leaving other guests without food.

Thus, this is difficult for guests, and more importantly for gracious hosts, to navigate through what may seem like an uncomfortable situation. Here are a few brief tips to help with the ill-mannered guest:

1. For any event that is somewhat open for guests to bring friends and family it would be wise to have servers. This way the host can monitor portion control on each item…even down to the delicious perfectly prepared Bar-B-Que ribs. Pile on the food, it’s fun time, but everything can be done with tact. Note- for Pot-Lucks when each attendee brings their own covered dish, the protocol of taking left-overs changes slightly.

2. Use dinner size plates to encourage guest to enjoy themselves and the food. This may seem strange, but by using a larger plate this will encourage guests to place much more food than a smaller scale plate.

3. Announce to your guests that any left overs will be pre-plated towards the conclusion of the event (unless requested by a specific person – perhaps due to a food allergy). If any guests plan to leave prior to the arranged time, their plate can still be prepared by servers.

4. Give generous portions to guests who are taking plates. This will discourage taking more of one item than another and will leave enough for the other guests to enjoy as well.

5. Announce how many plates may be taken per person. This will allow all guests to get something to take home, if so desired.

Rose Hedgemond is CEO of Avenues of Excellence and an etiquette and social protocol professional. Do you have an etiquette or social protocol question? Email her at info@avenuesofexcellence.com or follow her on Facebook at Rose Hedgemond and Twitter @AOE_IN.