The Art of the Dinner Date



The universal principles of chivalry when it comes to dating are presently facing extinction!  Fiction presents acts of gallantry from charming characters such as Mr. Darcy or James Bond, which not only made the fictitious female swoon and bat her eyes in modest appreciation, but influenced the reader to want a similar dining experience.  Although the dinner date has drastically changed, you, too, can encourage aspects of chivalry and table etiquette at your next meal.

Ready to woo your date?

  1. Appearance:  First impressions matter whether your date is a spouse, significant other, or someone you are meeting for the first time.  Comfort plays into the outfit, which must be both smart and make you feel great.
  2. Silence the Ringer: Before you arrive to greet your dinner date, silence your ringer.  The dinner date emphasizes your complete attention on the individual and conversation.  As tempting as it may be, do not pick up or check your phone.
  3. Arrive on Time: Punctuality is a valued characteristic that most people appreciate. Arriving late sets a negative tone to the start of an evening.
  4. Practice Acts of Chivalry: Society has come to a point where it is now considered polite to ask whether a car door can be opened.  It is a kind gesture to accept the offer.  Additionally, it is a form of courtesy to hold a date’s arm and walk together. Usually, men stand on the side facing traffic to protect his paramour from danger.
  5. Greetings: A question may arise on how to greet your dinner date, especially if he is unknown.  Introductions with a handshake and warm smile are acceptable.  A closer relationship may receive a hug or air kiss on both cheeks, which is sweet without crossing any lines of expectation.
  6. Sitting Down: Always approach your seat from the left side.  Place handbags on the floor to your right.  As you leave your chair, it will be easy to grab your handbag and exit on the same side.
  7. Ordering: Keep it simple.  Messy food such as pasta, seafood, and salad can pose problems. Choose a meal that is simple to eat, not expensive, and can endure an ongoing conversation.  Allow your date to order your preference.  And, if you enjoy wine, only accept one glass.  It is polite not to make additional requests such as a cup of coffee, tea, or dessert.  The evening may extend at a coffee shop or preferred location with amazing desserts.
  8. Establish Boundaries: Conversation can feel awkward when speaking to a newly met individual.  Show interest in your date and be an active listener.  Reveal only tidbits about yourself.  If the night goes well, you’ll have additional opportunities to share information and learn more about your date.
  9. Napkins and Eating: Open your napkin immediately and place it across your lap.   A group may wait until the host begins to unfold his or her napkin.  It is a kind gesture to wait until the act of serving dinner is over before picking up your fork. Other tips:
  • Never reach across the table; instead, ask for items on the table.
  • Always pass the salt and pepper together.
  • If food is too hot, sit patiently and wait until the food cools.
  • Cut only one to two bites at a time.
  • Keep elbows off the table and rest the hand you are not using in your lap.

The act of placing a napkin to the left of a plate indicates a completion of the meal.

  1. Leaving the Table:  Never announce your reason to leave the table; instead, place your napkin to the right of the plate, say, “excuse me,” and exit from the right side.
  2. Paying:  The check goes to the person, who made the invitation to dinner.  A date can offer to pay the tip, 20% of the total bill; however, the date is by no means obligated.  Sharing expenses should be arranged well before the date begins.
  3. Depart by Stating Kind Words:   At the end of the evening, a date should verbalize words of thankfulness for the evening and meal.

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