The Gentleman's Guide to Table-Party Etiquette

Warning: Taking any of these tips to heart when one is less than a true gentleman can lead to any of the following: feelings of loneliness, moderate-to-high douchebaggery, loss of social contacts, abandonment, severe beatings and tongue-lashings. Table-parties are as much a staple of student life as books, desks, Power Point presentations, graduation-related anxiety disorders and the consumption of alcohol in copious quantities. At some point or another most university students will find themselves in a situation where they either must or wish to attend a table party. To this end it is of utmost importance that a veteran table-party attendee enlighten the younger students of proper behaviour at a table-party.

Note: While the title of this article is directed towards gentlemen, in our day and age it is of importance to note that a large quantity of these tips apply both to gentlemen and their ladylike comrades.

Tip #1: The Importance of Arriving at the Right Time

Most table-parties start with the serving of cocktails usually anywhere between a hour to a half an hour before the actual table portion of the party. The cocktail part of a table-party is not only usually the time for guests from other organizations to present their greetings to the hosting organization, but also to mingle and socialize with friends and acquintances in a casual manner.

However, as any gentleman worth his salt should know, arriving early to any such occasion is considered gauche. The true gentleman should make his entrance no earlier than fifteen minutes into the cocktail event, preferably in the middle of an important speech. If at all humanely possible, the best time to arrive and thus make the most attention-drawing entrance is right after everyone has already been seated at the table and the first song has begun. Which brings us to our next point...

Tip #2: Leaving and Entering the Table

Many organizations advice that the table should not be left during courses unless there is a pressing need and one shouldn't return to the table during a song. As gentlemen of great importance we must put in perspective what sort of things merit departing the table during a course:

  • Answering or making an important phone call. (For the sake of a true gentleman, any phonecall is to be considered of importance.)
  • Combing one's hair. (As no true gentleman wishes to present himself in no less than the perfect form.)
  • Smoking a cigarette. (Nothing is more common than using the breaks between courses for their actual purpose. Besides, there may be ungentlemanly people in the cigarette booth during breaks.)

The rule about not returning to the table during songs should be considered merely a guideline, as any distraction caused by a well-timed entrance by a gentleman during a song should be considered a blessing to those below the gentleman's station.

Tip #3: Song Etiquette

Singing is an important part of table-parties and here there are many things to be taken into consideration. As no organization has yet to compile a perfect list of table-party songs, the true gentleman should assume onto himself the duty of introducing the other guests to songs outside of the song-list. As a preference for the obscure is a must for the true gentleman, it is of utmost importance that nobody else know the song the true gentleman should introduce. Remember, the more verses there are in a song that only you can sing, the better!

The true gentleman, when noticing a mistake in the lyrics printed on the song sheet (mistake in this case being any variation on the lyrics known by the gentleman in question) should voice his alternate lyrics as loudly as possible in an effort to drown out the other people's false words. The only way the people printing these false lyrics will learn of their mistakes is by example!

Tip #4: After-Party Etiquette

Most table-parties these days are followed by a less formal after-party. However, a true gentleman doesn't let their hair down until the very end of the party and that means that proper protocol must be all the way until the end of the after-party. Here are some helpful pointers for getting through after-parties without damaging your reputation:

  • DJs are to be treated with the respect deserving of a glorified jukebox. As they can't be trusted to know what sort of music people want to dance to they must be pestered at any appropriate moment. Any requests shot down by the DJ are to be complained about until the DJ caves in.
  • Remember that sharing is caring: any drinks left unattended for more than five seconds become common property by the rules established in your inebriated mind just now. Enjoy!
  • The drinks are always too expensive. Complain about this loudly, especially if you only came for the after-party and there was no cover charge. There's absolutely no excuse for the drinks being expensive at a party that is otherwise free of charge!

We hope that you keep all these things in mind when you next attend a table-party. Remember, as a gentleman it is your duty to act as a beacon of etiquette and good manners to all of those below your station!

Editor's Note: The most important tip to be gathered from this article: don't be this guy.

Patrik Renholm, editor and table-party survivor.

Looking Glam, Looking Fab - But With What Money?

tomorrow. part iii, tomorrow