7 Questions for Cocktail Party Etiquette

Top 7 Questions for Cocktail Party Etiquette

Last year I wrote a hugely successful post titled “Top 5 Dos and Don’ts for Fabulous Cocktail Party Etiquette”. I received so much positive response from this post, and some wonderful questions, I wanted to create another post to prepare you even more for your summer cocktail parties. Here I’ve prepared some practical answers to the most common cocktail party etiquette questions I’ve been asked.

Can I eat at a cocktail party?

Yes, absolutely. The food has been provided for you to enjoy. However, don’t overindulge! Cocktail parties are much like networking events; you’re there to meet and greet. So make sure the focus of your night is on conversation and people, not on hors d’oeuvres.

How do I eat and talk?

This is such a common question. The last thing you want is to fill your mouth with a pastry and have flakes fly out when you’re answering somebody’s question. To avoid this, choose food that is small enough to eat in one mouthful, and easy to chew. And be careful with cherry tomatoes; they can be embarrassingly difficult to eat. Take a look at “How to Eat and Talk at a Business Lunch” for more fabulous tips.

How do I remember somebody’s name?

Remembering another person’s name at a cocktail party is difficult, but not impossible. My best tip for you is to repeat their name as soon as they’ve introduced themselves, and then use it throughout the conversation. Say, “David, it’s so nice to meet you. How did you find out about this event?”. Or, “Susan, did you grow up in this area?” We all learn by doing, right?

What do I do if I’ve forgotten somebody’s name?

Don’t panic – it happens. With so much ambient noise, it’s easy to be distracted and not focused 100%. The best thing to say is, “I’ve drawn a blank. What was your name again?” If you say it with a smile, the other person won’t be offended. But don’t say, “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name”. It gives the impression they weren’t important enough for you to remember their name. If you want more tips on remembering names, take a look at “3 Steps to Remembering Names at Networking Events”.

How do I hold my wine glass?

You should always hold your wine glass in your left hand – you always need your right hand free and dry to shake hands with others. When you want to sip your wine, you can use your right hand for that moment. But as soon as you’ve finished sipping, switch your glass to your left hand. Wine enthusiasts may enjoy “How to Choose the Right Wine at a Business Lunch”.

How do I hold my plate?

Just like your wine glass, your plate should always be held in your left hand. But if you already have your wine glass in your left hand, how do you juggle all of this? You have two choices: 1) balance your plate in your left hand by spreading your middle and ring finger, and balance your glass in your left hand using your thumb and index finger, or 2) put your glass down while you eat. Obviously if you want to avoid embarrassing spills, option 2 is probably best.

Where do I place my name tag?

Your name tag should always be place on your right shoulder. I see so many people at networking events or cocktail parties place their name tag on their left shoulder. Most of us are right-handed, so it’s more natural to pin it on our left shoulder with our right hand. But it makes it so much easier for the other person to see your name when it’s pinned on your right shoulder because it’s in line with the hand they’ll be shaking.

Now I want to hear from you. What is your favourite tip from the 7 above that you will definitely try at your next cocktail party?

Image courtesy of Rob Wilson on Flickr.com under Creative Commons licence. No changes have been made to this image.

Image courtesy of Rob Wilson on Flickr.com under Creative Commons licence. No changes have been made to this image.

About Kara

Kara Ronin is the founder of Executive Impressions. She is an executive coach who specialises in leadership presence, social skills and business etiquette. She is also the creator of Bestselling Udemy course, Business Etiquette 101. Kara’s advice and unique perspectives have been featured in Time Inc., Business Insider, Ignites Europe (a Financial Times Service), The Muse, The Local France, The West Australian, and more. Kara works regularly with lawyers, investment bankers, and finance professionals to help them build presence, authority and influence in business. Get Kara's insights delivered straight to your inbox