How to be the perfect guest at a Swedish dinner party

There are some unwritten rules surrounding dinner invitations in different countries. Here are a few tips on how to be the perfect guest in a Swedish home.

Dress code
If you have received a written invitation, the dress code is normally mentioned there. If nothing is written about dress you should be fine with chinos and shirt for the man and a nice top and slacks or skirt or a casual dress for the woman.
A Swedish dinner party is normally not as relaxed and casual as the typical BBQ.

Arrive on time or maximum 15 minutes later than the time advertised for the dinner party. Do not arrive earlier than the time for the dinner.

Bring fresh flowers and a bottle of wine or a box of chocolate, give it to the hostess immediately at arrival.

Shake hands with both host and hostess and look them in the eye.  
When you enter a Swedish house you are supposed to take your shoes off. Bring your indoor shoes in a shoe bag and change shoes when you have entered the house.

Once you are in the house the hostess will tell you where to sit and stand while waiting for the dinner to be served. You will be served a welcome drink with a snack, if the drink contains alcohol and you do not wish to drink alcohol is it always ok to ask for a non-alcoholic drink.
If there are other guests in the room when you arrive the host or hostess will present you to the other guests and you are supposed to shake hands with the other guest when introduced. If you are not introduced to the other guests by the host or hostess, walk the room and introduce yourself and shake hands.
Socialize with the other guests while the dinner is being prepared.

When dinner is ready you will be called to the table and placed by the hostess. Once you have been pointed to your place, stand behind the chair and wait for the hostess to down. If you are a man and have a lady to your right, you are supposed to pull her chair out before you sit down, if you are a lady and have a man place to your right, wait for him to pull out your chair.

Once seated wait for the hostess to either make a toast or start eating before you touch your glass or silverware. If you are a man or older than the hostess you can toast with her, however, if you are more than eight dinner guests it is not appropriate to that everyone toasts with the hostess. Do not cling your glasses when you toast, rise your glass with your right hand, slightly lift you glass, sip a little bit, look the one you are toasting with in the eye, and put your glass down.

When it is time to start eating put you napkin in your knee. If you have more than one fork and knife, being from the outside for the first course and continue inwards when new food arrive. It is recommended to compliment the hostess for the cooking.

At the table, do not reach across other dinner guests to get more food, ask them to pass you the dish you are looking for.

After dinner, there will be coffee and avec served, sometimes at the table sometimes in another room. When you are asked to leave the table, do not forget to pull out the chair for the lady sitting to your right.

It is not customary to bring a dish to a Swedish dinner party unless it is clearly announced and a “knytkalas” were everyone brings a dish.
Do not expect your Swedish hosts to offer you to take some leftovers back home.  They do though, appreciate guests that eat a lot at the table!

Hopefully you had a good dinner with nice people!

It is custom to invite your host and hostess to dinner not later than one or two months after you attended to their dinner party.

Once the dinner is in your house, your etiquette rules! Be prepared though for Swedes coming to dinner parties quite dressed up, they give you flowers and chocolate and they take their shoes off upon entering your house.

Good luck at your Swedish dinner party!  

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