Etiquette Tip of the Week: Thanksgiving Buffet Rules in Business
By Callista Gould
Bio: Callista Gould is a certified etiquette instructor and founder of the Culture and Manners Institute.
Many people are telling me they serve Thanksgiving dinner buffet style, rather than family style, where platters and bowls of food are passed.
In business, we frequently eat buffet style at conferences and meetings. There are also breakfast buffets at hotels. At one hotel, I was waiting forever for my piece of toast to get through one of those toasting contraptions where it goes in one end and after an eternity, out the other. Before I could reach it, a strange man grabbed it with his fingers and set it aside. Start over.
So it’s good to review buffet rules, that make for happy hosts at Thanksgiving and fewer career killing moves in business.
With slices of anything, take the one on the end, don’t pick through the pile for the perfect one.
Hands off – don’t grab the bread with your hands. If there are tongs available, use them.
With a buffet, you may begin eating as soon as you take your seat. In business, wait until a few people join you, so you don’t look famished. In Thanksgiving, wait for your host/hostess to begin.
Salt and pepper are passed together, one in each hand. If someone asks for just the salt or just the pepper, you still keep them together.
When eating at someone else’s home, wait for seconds to be offered. In business, forget seconds – business is no place to stuff yourself.
At the meal’s end, if you brought a dish, you may collect what’s left. But you have no right to demand other leftovers. In business, do not bag buffet leftovers.
74 percent of Americans in a 2017 survey by Butterball, don’t expect Thanksgiving to be perfect. That’s as it should be – enjoy family and friends and overlook etiquette shortcomings in others. Happy Thanksgiving!