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Inaugural Ball Etiquette 101

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With the Golden Globes behind us and the Inauguration just days away, we got to wondering: How do these celebrities attend these formal affairs without looking like bumbling, inappropriate idiots?

Woman in a formal dining

There's definitely an art to looking like you belong at a fancy shmancy event, so we asked Lisa Gache of Beverly Hills Manners to give us the skinny on helpful manners to remember when attending a formal affair:

1. Make your grand entrance. In order to feel confident before entering any formal affair, one must have good poise and posture. Make sure to stand up straight, hold in your stomach and walk slowly and gracefully. You may also want to make sure you are well-groomed, that your hair is brushed, your clothes are neatly pressed, your shoes are clean and that you have plenty of breath freshener or mints on hand. Armed with this checklist, you are sure to be the belle of the ball.

2. Shake hands with confidence. When making introductions at a formal affair, it is important to know the proper handshake and to say hello with a smile while making eye contact. Extend your right hand with your fingers meeting web to web and shake hands with two pumps only, then break.

3. Balancing act. Ladies, refrain from carrying big, heavy bags to a formal affair. A clutch is not only chic, but much more easy to handle. Tuck your clutch under your arm so that you may hold your beverage in one hand and your hors d'oeuvre in the other.

4. Do not double dip! If hand-passed trays of food are being served, make sure to have a cocktail napkin in hand to soak up any drippings or to wrap your toothpicks, skewers or inedible morsels of food. Refrain from double-dipping. Once you've taken a bite of your food, you may no longer dip the remaining contents. Also, be aware not to dispose of your dirty napkins onto a clean tray of food.

5. Strike up a conversation. Mingling and socializing are the keys to success at any event whether formal or informal. Be an expert conversationalist by brushing up on current events, hot topics and local culture before your big night. Keep the conversation flowing by asking open-ended questions and really listening to the answers. Remember, people love to talk about themselves -- however, sometimes this may be a problem when you need to circulate the room. If you must end a conversation, begin by diverting your attention, break eye contact and then follow up with a line such as "it's been a pleasure meeting you..." and then venture into another area or room. 

6. Celebrate with a toast. All toasts should be made with a glass of champagne in hand if possible. Make sure to hold your glass by the stem so as not to warm the chilled bubbly beverage in your glass. Raise your glass and repeat the words "I would like to propose a toast". Once you have completed your toast, take a sip of your champagne while looking at the recipient. If you are the recipient of the toast, you do not raise your glass, nor to you drink. You simply accept the gracious acknowledgment by saying "thank you."

7. Do not disturb. As in movie theaters, once the movie has begun, it is time to put away the food. During a formal sit down dinner, once a speech is given, you should refrain from making any noise, including a chewing sound or clanking sound that may occur while eating your meal. Once the speech is complete, you may resume your dining experience.

8. Never talk with your mouth full. If someone asks you a question when you have a mouth full of food, do your best to finish swallowing the contents before answering. There is nothing more distasteful than watching a grown adult speak with chewed up pieces of food in their mouth.


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