White House state dinners or when abroad. Thus, a few principles are reviewed here to help those who may be required to attend a formal dinner.
a. Dinner partners. At formal dinners, each man escorts the dinner partner, who sits on his right, to the dinner table.
(1) Each man may learn his partner’s name from cards in small envelopes arranged on a silver tray in the entrance hall (see sample card in fig 3–13). At large dinners in hotels or clubs, a tray of name cards is usually placed in the room where cocktails are served.
(2) Each man opens his envelope or card in time to meet his dinner partner. The host makes sure that every man either knows or is presented to his dinner partner. At large official dinners, the aides make the introductions.
(3) After noting the name of his dinner partner on his card, each man checks the seating chart. The chart is usually displayed near the tray of name cards. It is generally a tablet-shaped board that shows the location of each guest’s seat at the table.
(4) The host leads the way to the dining room. He escorts the ranking female and seats her on his right. The hostess comes next with the ranking male unless the guest of honor is of a very high position. In this case, the host (hostess) and guest of honor enter the dining room first. The host or hostess and ranking female (male) enter next. All other guests follow in pairs, in no particular order of precedence.
b. Place cards.
(1) The place cards most generally used are heavy white cards about 2 inches high and 3 inches long. The flag of the hosting official or general officer or a unit crest may be embossed or stamped in the upper left corner or top center. The title or rank and surname are handwritten in black ink. If two people of the same position and last name are present, a first initial may be used.
(2) Sergeants through master sergeants are referred to as “sergeant.” Sergeants major and command sergeants central as “Sergeant Major.” The second lieutenant and a first lieutenant are referred to as “Lieutenant,” lieutenant colonels and colonels as “Colonel,” and all general officers as “General.”
c. Smoking at the table. Smoking between courses or before the toasts is frowned upon at dinners. The safest rule to follow is, when there is the slightest doubt about Smoking, don’t. Remember, too, that most dinner guests do not appreciate the aroma of pipe and cigar smoke.
d. Interpreters. An interpreter may be required at a dinner for a foreign dignitary. The interpreter should sit close to the dignitary and the person for whom they are interpreting. Typical seating plans for an event requiring an interpreter are shown in figures 3–14 and 3–15. The interpreter’s duties are so demanding that they will find it difficult to eat and interpret effectively simultaneously. However, this does not preclude the interpreter from being seated at the table to the right of the foreign dignitary and being served, as are the other dinner guests.
e. Thank you notes.
(1) A thoughtful guest will always write a thank you note to the host/hostess who has entertained them. It is also considerate to send flowers or a gift for special occasions.
(2) It is not necessary to write a thank you note for large official functions, such as a reception to which hundreds of guests have been invited.
a. Toasts are given upon various occasions—at wedding receptions, dinners, birthday parties, anniversaries, and dining-ins/outs. Today we honor individuals and institutions by raising our glasses in a salute while expressing good wishes and drinking to that salute. Etiquette calls for all to participate in a toast. Even non-drinkers should at least raise the glass to the greeting.
b. Those offering a toast, male or female, should stand and raise the glass in a salute while uttering the expression of goodwill. Meanwhile, the individual(s) being toasted should remain seated, nod in acknowledgment, and refrain from drinking one’s own toast. Later, they may stand, thank the others, and offer a toast in return. A female may respond with a toast, or she may remain seated, smile at the person who toasted her, and raise her glass in a gesture of “Thanks, and here’s to you.”
c. At a formal event, the host initiates the toasting, Mr. Vice/Madame Vice at a Dining-in/out, or any guest when the occasion is informal. The subject of the toast is always based on the type of occasion. General toasts would be “to your health” or to “success and happiness.” However, special events such as weddings or birthdays would require toasts more specific in nature, such as “to Mary and John for a lifetime of happiness and love” in the case of a wedding, or on a birthday, “may your next 25 years be as happy and as successful as your first 25 years.”
d. When you are the one making the toasts at a formal occasion, you must be well prepared. You must have advanced information about the person or persons to be toasted so that your remarks are pertinent, related to the individual, and accurate. If they are a close friend, you may make a more personal remark.
e. Toasts are generally given at the end of a meal, during or after dessert, as soon as the wine or champagne is served, and before any speeches are made. Toasts at dining-ins or dining-outs are often presented just prior to being seating for the meal.
f. At a small dinner, anyone may propose a toast as soon as the first wine has been served, and guests stand only if the person giving the toast stands. More than one toast may be drunk with the same glass of wine.