Formal Dinner Party Courses

Dinner party coursesIn the 20-plus years I’ve lived in the DC area, I have yet to be invited to a White House State Dinner. (There’s no apparent reason why I would be invited, but can’t I keep the dream alive? Yes, I can!) Besides the obvious worries that might arise if I were actually invited to a state dinner — what would I wear? where would we park the car? — what worries me most is formal dinner party etiquette. I know all about the napkin-in-your-lap and no-elbows-on-the-table, but would I be able to navigate the numerous formal dinner party courses? Would I remember what they were?

The following are the courses in a formal, French dinner (with links to recipes)  but depending on the type of meal you’re enjoying the number of courses and the order in which they’re served may vary.

1. Cold hors d’oeurve

2. Soup

3. Fish or Seafood Dish

4. Entrée

5. Cold dish or salad

6. Cheese

7. Dessert

8. Fruit

9. Coffee

Sorbets are often served between courses as palate cleansers.

Formal Dinner Party Courses


  1. This is the only one on line that is RIGHT. The salad course comes after the meat course. My father always blamed moving it before the main course on the Texans- I don’t know why

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