The Etiquette of Formal Events and Dinner Parties at Home

By Toll Brothers 2 minute read

Last updated on July 19th, 2019

Are you planning a dinner party, wedding rehearsal, or a graduation celebration in your luxury Toll Brothers home? How are home parties different from other venues in terms of tradition and etiquette? There may be more similarities than you think. Let’s take a look.

Parties at home take organization and skill to orchestrate. However, Lisa Richey, etiquette expert, shares why these events are her favorite, and how to make them a success. There is something about the warmth of being in a home for a celebration. Even if the affair is catered, you can create a special mood with food and decorations.


Dinner Party Etiquette Rules

1. The invite sets the tone for the party. Decide if you want to mail the invitation, which Lisa highly recommends, or use an email invite such as Paperless Post. Also, make it clear as to how you want your guests to RSVP. Email is always an easy option and/or include a phone number. If you are hosting a wedding, read our article on The Artful RSVP: Wedding Celebrations and Invitation Inspirations.

2. Your guests may offer a hostess gift. Express your gratitude and consider placing it off to the side. You do not want those that did not bring a gift to feel uncomfortable. If you want to stay true to etiquette guidelines, handwrite a thank you note for the present.

3. As a host, you may be very busy once guests start to arrive. Consider the importance of welcoming your friends and family by saying hello, introducing as necessary, and offering to take their coats. Show them around and offer a cocktail or appetizer depending on the occasion. If you are not available, assign this to someone.

4. Conversation skills are a lost art these days. Spend time getting to know your guests. Ask them questions. This is a key to becoming a good conversationalist. You become more interesting when you are interested in someone else, and your guests will remember you as being a gracious host!

5. If a guest contacts you before the party to let you know of a food allergy, do your best to try to accommodate their needs.

6. Create a prearranged seating chart. This takes time and thought. Consider personalities and relationships. Do your best. There are many schools of thought….you may even want to mix up couples to encourage more engagement. This isn’t about etiquette but how you want to arrange the guests at your table.

7. After dinner, you may want to have your guests socialize in the family or living room. Serve coffee and offer a delicious tray of assorted chocolates. This is how the Europeans entertain, and it is also a nice way to showcase the beautiful areas of your luxury home.

8. As your guests leave, walk them to the front door, thank them for coming, and offer to help with their coats. Nothing leaves a lasting impression quite like a heartfelt farewell.

For more information on etiquette or how to plan your next party or family gathering, visit our blog or Pinterest boards.


Lisa Richey, founder of the American Academy of Etiquette contributed to this story. Lisa is an international speaker and provides business etiquette training for companies. Additionally, she offers a training and certification program for those wishing to start their business teaching manners to children. You may contact her at or

*Photo above features the Summit Estates at Westchester in Valhalla, NY. To see more photos, go on a virtual tour, or gather more information about this model visit here.

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Toll Brothers, an award-winning FORTUNE 500 company founded in 1967, is the nation's leading builder of luxury homes. Embracing an unwavering commitment to quality and customer service, Toll Brothers currently builds in 24 states nationwide, and is a publicly owned company with its common stock listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: TOL). 2021 marks the 10th year Toll Brothers has been named to FORTUNE magazine’s World’s Most Admired Companies® list. Toll Brothers also has been honored as national Builder of the Year by BUILDER magazine, and was twice named national Builder of the Year by Professional Builder magazine.

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