Why a good dinner guest doesn't linger

Sian Harrison
The best way to please hosts is to leave at a reasonable hour - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

Navigating the finer points of dinner party etiquette can be tiring at the best of times.

But, according to an article in the latest edition of The Lady, the best way to please hosts is to leave at a reasonable hour.

In his wry response to a confused reader, Thomas Blaikie - the magazine's manners and etiquette correspondent - said the end of a dinner party is a "traumatic subject" and that "the best leaving occurs naturally".

He advises guests to depart by 10.30pm if the party is on a weekday and 11.15pm at the weekend.

Mr Blaikie, whose Modern Manners column is a regular fixture in the long-running women's magazine, writes: "Left to their own devices, guests can reach a point beyond which they've lost the will and the energy to leave, having previously perhaps been wishing to leave but feeling it was too early and all their energy went into that agony, so there is none left with the time to leave has long passed.

Credit: Alamy

"Especially if the hosts, rather hoping that the guests will leave, offer them more and more, such as a hard drink like brandy, diminishing almost to vanishing point any hope of departure."

The author and English teacher also addresses the thorny issue of whether guests should be invited into the lounge after dinner.

Dos and don’ts | Hosting a modern dinner party

He advises that it is "not in anyway rude" to serve tea and coffee at the dinner table, as the debris left over from pre-dinner drinks will make it impractical to use the lounge - unless someone else is at hand to clear up.

Mr Blaikie, author of Blaikie's Guide to Modern Manners, admits to finding after-dinner drinks "just about the last straw" when hosting his own dinner parties.

He adds: "Having pushed out three courses for eight people, I've not an ounce of strength left to get the kettle on."

The Lady, founded in 1885, is Britain's longest-running weekly magazine and is based in central London.

Early contributors include writer and socialite Nancy Mitford, and author Lewis Carroll - who compiled a puzzle for the title.

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