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Table manners for Christmas and NYE

· French Etiquette

The end of the year is coming, which is a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy endless dinners ! The most important in France are Christmas Eve dinner (or Christmas Day lunch for some) and New Year’s Eve.

These celebrations are about sharing, caring and loving ! We could admit that etiquette is less respected in such moments, but let us remind you the most basic and important manners that you should respect anyhow 🍽

When to arrive to the dinner party ?

As a guest, never arrive in advance, as your host might need more time to finish preparing ! That’s also the reason why you should arrive 10 to 20 minutes after the official start of the gathering.

How long « l'apéritif » should last ?

« L’apéritif » is a time to start the evening before the actual dinner and happens in the living-room. It should not last for more than 1 hour. Welcome guests with beverages and once everyone is here, you can serve « amuse-bouche » (or canapés). By the way, don’t eat the last canapé ! Unless everyone else agree you should have it.

Who should serve the food ?

The host stands up to serve the guests one by one, asking for their plates and how much they want. For side dishes (rice, potatoes, chestnuts…), dishes may be passed by the guests themselves from left to right.

Can I serve wine to myself ?

Usually the host should always pour you some. If nobody takes care of you, you could do it, while also offering some to the people around you.

What if something is too far from me to reach it ?

Ask for it. Never pass your arm above other people’s plates. If somebody asks you for bread, hand over the whole bread basket, not a piece of bread.

How to eat foie gras ?

Foie gras is a classic Christmas delicacy. Cut a small piece and lay it over the surface of your toast where you want to bite and eat it as it is. Don’t spread it nor crush it.

How about Christmas turkey ?

Wait for the host to serve it to you, show your plate and say which part you are interested in (ie. the leg), only if you are asked too. Some chestnuts and sauce are traditionally served with it.

How to eat cheese ?

Use the common cheese knife (not your own knife) to cut into a cheese and place the piece of cheese on your plate before putting it onto your piece of bread. Pass the cheese platter to the person on your right. You could also hold it while the person takes some, this will be very helpful !

How to eat the dessert ?

The traditional Christmas dessert in France is « la bûche de Noël » (« Yule log »), made of sponge cake and cream. Use your dessert fork or dessert spoon to enjoy it. Never use a knife to cut into it, nor with any other dessert !

One last advice ?

Have fun, take your time to eat (because there will be a LOT of food), drink responsibly and enjoy the moment !

Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.

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