What to do with dinner party guests with their phones everywhere

14 June 2014 |

We all remember dinner parties before smartphones came to our lives. We really all sit around tables looking at each other but not in our screens. And we really just ate our food instead of putting the photo of it to the Instagram.

When we have become more accustomed to being regularly connected, the etiquette of cell phone use in public has quite relaxed.


Molly Watson, the etiquette expert says, if somebody uses cell phone at a dinner party it sends an off-putting message to everyone who presents there.

“It is rude. Whether or not it’s what the person intends, it clearly communicates that the person using it has better, more interesting things to attend to”, – she says.

Here are a few ideas of how to deal with the situation.

Idea 1: Do nothing, but don’t invite them anymore

You can choose the way of least resistance and ignore the problem but mentally put that person to the list of those who you won’t invite in future. Like Watson says, when someone pulls out his cell phone at a dinner party, it is rude behavior, but to comment rude behavior is rude behavior as well.

It is not easy to bite your tongue but think about the risk to ruin your party with an awful scene.

Idea 2: Allow a communal checking of phones sometimes

You can let everyone to give up briefly to their addiction. It is something like a smoke break. Like experts say, between courses you can say something like “Let’s all check our phones now so we can get back to hanging out” and this will be good.


Idea 3: Fight but with a sense of humor

If you don’t wish to confront your guest for the whole party, you can choose more passive and funnier way. The experts offer for instance text the guests some messages. They can be like “You lose” or “Your husband is hitting on me” or you can send them some picture… a picture of them staring at their phone.

If your friend has a good sense of humor he will understand and put his phone away. And if somebody would be offended – don’t worry. You won’t spend your evenings with a rude, easily offended person anymore.

Idea 4: Ask why

It can happen that your guest has a reason to stare at his phone. In this case there is a tactful approach. Just ask him if they must be somewhere for them moment, as it can be the only reason why he drag his phone instead of enjoying conversation and food. If not, ask him to put down his phone and join the guests for the rest of the party.

Idea 5: Take their phones away

If your guests don’t hear your polite hints and continue sticking to their phones, treat them like misbehaving kindergarteners. Just take their phones away. The experts say this is a last-ditch option.

If nothing works, just collect the phones to a box. And you’ll get the party like in the long-ago days before smartphones came.

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