Delightful Dining: The Service

Delightful DiningIn parts one through three of our “Delightful Dining” series, we discussed the people, planning the meal, and the meal atmosphere. Today we’re going to talk about service during the meal.


Take their coats. When people walk in the door, someone can offer to take their coats and purses, and place the items in a designated area.

Seat the guests. If dinner is on the table, go ahead and seat the guests at the table if they arrive together. Otherwise, show them where they can sit, such as in the living room, while they wait for dinner to be ready and the other guests to arrive. A host can sit with them, if possible, to start an appropriate conversation and help the guests feel at ease.

Pour the drinks. While a few people are putting the finishing touches on dinner, one or two people can find out what the guests would like to drink, and have the drinks ready at the table. If dinner will be several more minutes, ask the company if they would like to have their drink in advance. Extra beverages could be kept on the table, if there’s room, or in the fridge so they’ll stay cold.

Pray. Have someone designated to lead the group in prayer, thanking God for the food and fellowship.

Serve the food. This can be done several ways. If you’re having a buffet-style meal, allow the guests to go first. If the meal has been placed on the table, family style, guests can choose a dish, take what they want, and pass it to their left. This may be good for the hosts to start, as guests are often unsure of what to do and will wait to see an example. The other, and more formal, option is to serve the guests their meal at their seats. The company can sit down, and the cooks/servers can bring them their plates of food, restaurant style. This is a good option if there isn’t much extra space on the table, since food dishes in the center won’t be necessary, or if there isn’t much counter space to spread the food on. However, it will also mean more work for the hosts who will need to stay aware of empty plates so they can offer seconds.

Stock PhotoRefill drinks. Someone who is observant, and in a convenient location, can be on the lookout for near-empty glasses and offer to refill them.

Have nice conversation. Ask the guests an open-ended question about themselves, or about something you know they’re interested in, such as their children or a ministry they’re involved in. It’s okay for the hosts to offer information about themselves, too, but make sure to not dominate the conversation.

Clear the meal. All of the hosts can clear the table, put the dirty dishes in the sink, and put the food away, in just a few minutes. Insist the guests relax at the table while you’re doing this, and the person in charge of drink refills can refill drinks while this job is being completed.

Serve dessert. While someone is clearing the table, and someone else is refilling drinks, a third person can work on dishing out the dessert. When these jobs are done, everyone can simply take the dessert plates to the table, putting them in front of the guests first, then serving themselves and sitting back down.

Everybody, clean up! (Except the guests, that is.) Most of the clean-up should already be complete, so this job should be easy. Once dessert is over, take the dessert dishes to the sink, and load the dishwasher. Guests should not help with this (remember, you’re serving them), so they can sit in the living room and relax while clean-up is being completed.

Coming up

We’re going to close out this series by giving a few entertainment ideas, as well as offer menu suggestions, so check back soon!

By Davonne Parks

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