Richmond Proper: Entertaining round-up

With the holidays fast approaching, we thought it would be a good idea to take down the the tome that is our on-going Richmond Proper article, blow away the digital dust, and look over some hard-and-fast rules to make the holidays more mannerly. For instance, what’s the best way to set the table before dinner, and how should we interact with family members that we’d like nothing more than to punch in the face.

It happens every year: holiday events sneak up on us just as “how lovely, the leaves are changing!” leaves our mouths. In the midst of the chaos of scheduling, preparing, and executing these events, hosts become flustered and guests become overwhelmed. The holidays are in full swing now, so I thought it would be appropriate to do a round-up of previous entertaining-related columns here on Richmond Proper. Time to brush up before the hordes of visitors arrive!

  • On Being a Good Guest: “It’s tempting to think of the guest to host relationship as being one-sided: hosts do all the work, and then we as guests just show up. But socializing should be a two-sided activity where hosts see to our comfort and we respond with our company and respect. Punishing a host for his good intentions with bad behavior seems like an unnatural response, and yet so many hosts come away from events feeling used or having to deal with awkward situations. I like to think that this is the result of carelessness rather than cruelty, so assuming we all desire not to ruin the lives of our hosts, let’s set forth a few basic rules for being good guests.” (read more)
  • On Being a Good Host: “The relationship of guest and host is a system of give-and-take, and when we consider a few simple rules we can help to eliminate the “me vs. them” feeling of dread that sometimes arises when hosting an event.” (read more)
  • Setting the Table: “A simple, standardized set of tools seems like the most sensible way to set the table. Most of us will rarely (if ever) attend dinners that require what Miss Manners calls a “nightmare table setting,” with 40 different objects arranged around our plate that we are expected to know how to use. So instead we will focus on the basic table setting, which works for everything from a family dinner to a sit-down wedding feast.” (read more)
  • On Family Manners: “As we roll deeper into holiday crunch time, we could probably all benefit from a brush-up on our family manners. Holiday gatherings can alternately be a time to remember all the things you love about your family, as well as all the reasons you don’t hang out with them often.” (read more)
  • On Hoverers: “A particularly sensitive subject around the holidays is the phenomenon of hovering guests. These are not party-goers who literally levitate above the floor, but who follow their hostess around like a shadow while she tends to her duties. Recently I have had an alarming number of run-ins with this type of guest and have been completely clueless on how to gracefully extract myself from the situation.” (read more)

As always, I’m available to answer your brand new etiquette questions as well, so don’t be shy. Contact information is always at the bottom of the article, and I’ve always got my RP superhero costume stashed in a secret compartment in my purse, ready at a moment’s notice.


Need some advice or want to share your own etiquette-related story? Hit us up at Richmond Proper on Tumblr or email

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Tess Shebaylo

Tess Shebaylo is a freelance writer, crafter, history geek, and compulsive organizer. She works at Tumblr and lives in Church Hill with her daughter, Morella.

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