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Chips before dinner? Maybe the problem is the host, not the guest. [Photo: Vicky Wasik]

Dear Molly,

I have a question regarding my guests snacking before dinner. My wife and I enjoy hosting dinner parties and put hours of work to ensure the food is fabulous and everyone has a great time. Some of our friends are notorious snackers and insist on bringing bags of chips and other junk food, even when we ask them not to. They open the chips and eat despite our warnings, sometimes minutes before food is served. Are there any polite ways of stopping this behavior? Or am I just being a stick in the mud?
Sincerely,
No Snacks Before Dinner/Possible Stick in the Mud

Dear No Snacks,

It sounds to me like you need to put out some hors d'œuvres.

Seriously. When guests walk in, you greet them, take their coats, offer them a beverage, and steer them toward the lovely nibbles you've set out. It needn't be things that require much work. Nuts, olives, cheese, crudités, crackers—these all work nicely. If you're making your guests sit around without food, no wonder they've developed this crass habit.

This isn't about keeping children from spoiling their appetites for the family dinner, this is about adults hosting friends and recognizing that people are usually quite peckish come dinner time. It's kind and thoughtful to offer something to tide them over until the meal is served.

If you try this and your guests still bring their own pre-dinner eats you can do one of two things: 1) get out a bowl into which they can dump their chips and plan your menus and servings sizes accordingly, or 2) find some new people to invite to dinner.

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