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The Art and Spirit of Dining Etiquette (2)

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Dinner table -decorinfo

Dinner table -decorinfo

An Appropriate gift “NOW when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Mathew 2:1-2(ASV).

Some wise men from the Orient saw the star of the King of the Jews and went all the way to Jerusalem to worship Him.

When they did meet Jesus, they took out of their treasures: Gold, frankincense and Myrrh. These three gifts were of immense value on many dimensions of which we need not visit here.

There are two important things of worthy note here however, 1) They came bearing gifts and 2) They offered gifts befitting for a King It is said that the gift is not as important as the thought. Generally, this is true.

Sometimes, the thought is more expensive! Gift giving can be a complex predicament especially when you have very little or no information.

In the corporate world, one must tread carefully in order to prevent stories that touch the heart, but it is nonetheless a rewarding venture.

In social circles, it is a lot more constricting and personally, I do not think people do it enough! If you were going to meet someone for the very first time and you judge it appropriate, it will do you a lot of good if you can offer a flattering gift.

When your pocket isn’t too deep, creativity can make up for so much. When invited to dinner it is always nice to come with a gift to show your appreciation for the efforts of your host.

Host Finesse
It is easier to envision what you want a gathering to look like, however, when it comes to sending out invitations, the situation calls for a little more level headedness and attention to details. It is easy not to get this part right, but much more difficult to detect this miscalculation as the culprit of offended invitees and some disgruntled guests. Much better therefore to err on the side of caution than to take it playfully.

They are untold numbers of people who never showed up and never told why, whom were offended because they were not invited appropriately.

Most individuals – regardless of your opinion of them – take themselves very seriously and therefore their time is valuable and should be! It is rude to give an invitation a day before an event or anything too close to the event if you can help it.

An invitation should be sent by way of paper, through digital technology or through word of mouth depending on the formality and the unique elements of the gathering. It is a disservice not to give your guests enough time to plan for your event. Anything short of that suggests a desire not to host them and might be taken as a discourteous hint.

Now, if by some avoidable error of yours you can’t help but send a late invitation, do so sincerely and apologetically. Depending on the intricacies of the event and the person in question, you can insist to make it up to them.

Please don’t make a promise you cannot keep; it should be acceptable according to what is within your power – if there is first a willing heart. Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians (in the eight chapter and the twelfth verse) concerning gift giving put it this way; “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not”.

In spite of your error, if they do make it, then be a gracious host, make another brief apology and express your delight to see them – don’t overdo this. And if they can’t, reach out to them.

Perhaps you can extend another intimate invitation to them if they are close friends. Otherwise you can send a thoughtful gift – something from the party perhaps, like a cute little box containing a portion of cake, with a note included might just do the trick.

Guest’s Graces

If you’re the guest, it is important to RSVP on time. It is important and will save your host unnecessary trouble. If you do accept the invite and eventually cannot make it, do call and explain – do not leave it at that and just not show up.

An exposition of the reason should be avoided. Of course do state your reason simply and to the point but do be gracious with your apology.

Here again, do what you need to do to make amends – after all, it is your word that was broken. Arrive just on time or not later than 15 minutes after.

Don’t arrive too early otherwise you’ll catch your host in preparation and a flurry of activity which will not be appreciated. Fifteen minutes after the stated time is fine.

Do apologise if you get there late. If it is a less formal event and the host or hostess is well known to you, it is thoughtful to make an offer to help with preparations. You can call in advance or offer your assistance when you get there but don’t insist if you are turned down.

Now, contrary to popular opinion, it is not the sole responsibility of your host to entertain you; it is easy to make a happy person happier than it is to pry a guest from his forlorn disposition. Don’t make the party all about you, be gracious and take a frugal heart along – that is, it shouldn’t take much to please you.

Smile and be ready to liven up the party in any way you can. No one wants a disheartened, miserable neighbour or guest – it is neither the time nor the place to throw a tantrum when you don’t get what you want nor is it the time for a juvenile display for attention.

A Guiding Virtue for both Host and Guest “Now when the turn of every maiden was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that it had been done to her according to the law for the women twelve months (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, to wit, six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odors and with the things for the purifying of the women), then in this wise came the maiden unto the king: whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house. In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, who kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and she were called by name. Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all them that looked upon her”. Esther 2:12-15 (ASV)

I find this queen to be a very remarkable one indeed. It is not often – in fact, it is very rare indeed to find a woman who is this…selfless, compassionate and humble.

No one would have thought it wisdom to do away with one’s own desires. Some might call it foolishness but this foolishness got Esther the most converted position of the time.

The truth is that when we love others above ourselves – when we place others in higher esteem than we do ourselves, two things at least happen; The first is that we win their hearts and the second is that God Himself honours us.

This virtue called love is when we are most like our Father and when He is able to fill us with the fullness of Himself.


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