Etiquette for the Business of Life

The holidays are fast approaching! Which means the most social season of the year is upon us.

Office parties, neighborhood gatherings, and friendly get-togethers are the norm during these last months of 2014. Are you prepared for the Cocktail Party Balancing Act?

It’s the one where you must try and hold a glass, napkin, and a plate, and shake hands all at the same time.

This balancing act can be quite tricky if you aren’t accustomed to performing it. So I’d love to give you some pointers that make the task easier, and your party more enjoyable.

Let’s take it step by step - and hand by hand:

What to do with your LEFT HAND:

  • 1. Napkin: place a tip between your ring finger and middle finger.
  • 2. Plate: rest it on the middle finger with the index finger helping to support the placement, or place your index finger on top of the plate to help secure the glass.
  • 3. Glass: your thumb and index finger will securely hold the wine glass at its base as it sits on top of the plate (some prefer to secure their glass with the thumb alone).

What to do with your RIGHT HAND:

  • 1. Move the glass from your left hand to your mouth and drink; replace glass in your left hand.
  • 2. Pick up the tasty tidbits from your plate and eat.
  • 3. Wipe your fingers on your napkin.
  • 4. Extend for a handshake while smiling and greeting others!

I advise folks to only place food on your plate that you can comfortably eat with your fingers. It’s difficult to balance the socializing part of the act when you have sticky goo all over your hands.

Practice holding a plate, glass, and napkin in your left hand before attending another social event. You’ll be well prepared for eating, drinking, and being merry. Happy Holidays!

ETIQUETTE For the Business of Life, LLC offers private consultations and practical sessions in dining etiquette and self-presentation skills for your business, university, civic or youth group. Schedule your group to experience our food-less dining etiquette training! Find out more at:

Published in the Nov/Dec 2014 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Candace Smith, Photograph by Aaron Jacoby

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