Post by Lauren
When moving to Switzerland, I read quite a lot about how to properly thank people and what to bring when you are invited to a true Swiss person’s home. All these books advised that it would be quite rare to actually get invited to a Swiss home as an ex-pat, since they only invite trusted long term friends vs. folks who are only here in two year stints. ( See more on this and tu and vous on Schwingen in Switzerland )
However, I thought we better be prepared, so I have noted the following:
Rule #1 – When going to a dinner party, you should bring a gift for the gentleman and a gift for the lady. So, perhaps a bottle of wine and a bouquet of flowers. Or chocolate for her and whisky for him.
We saw this when Gabe’s co-workers came to pick up the large items we had included in our shipment for them, after they found out it wasn’t possible to buy in Switzerland. They brought him a very nice bottle of champagne and me this gorgeous orchid that has been adding so much color to our home this summer. They obviously read the manual and I was impressed by their gesture.
Sub-Rule 1a – if there are children, you must also bring something for them like a chocolate or a toy.
Sub-Rule 1b – if you bring wine, it is noted to make sure it is of high quality.
Check. Good to know not to bring the Boones farm to the nice gatherings.
Sub-rule 1c – if you bring flowers, they should not be carnations, or lilies which mean death or yellow roses.
Sub-rule 1c1 – do not ever bring an even number of flowers. Only odd. Its bad luck to bring even.
Glad to know about the even/odd thing. I’ll make sure to note this.
However, I am concerned that they had to put the clause about buying carnations in this book…who is out there buying carnations anymore?
Rule # 2 – Always wait for your guest to offer a toast such as “Santé”* before drinking. Don’t clink your glasses like American’s do. Make sure to stare deeply into everyone’s eyes before taking a sip.
Check. I can handle that. We have actually been practicing the “santé” quite a bit. Except everyone seems to interpret “deeply” as “creepy”. See A executing the creepy santé below.
Rule #3 – leave by 9pm.
Check. When I lived in Charlotte and went to the gym at 5am, I can appreciate this rule. Most of my Charlotte friends have witnessed me falling asleep at my own dinner party. That was usually their signal to leave.
Also, we have heard that we shouldn’t make noise between 8pm and 8am. So, no running the dishwasher, washer/dryer and certainly no footsteps. We haven’t had any issues with neighbors so far, but our friends have had neighbors approach them and tell them that they won’t think twice about calling the police if they hear a peep from them after 10pm.
Rule # 4 – never ever show up at someone’s door unannounced. The Swiss are very private people.
Check. Every building has a door code anyway. I don’t plan on breaking in to crash on new nonexistent Swiss friends.
So far we have only done Canadienne Buffets at friends homes, more in the style we are used to. We like this as everyone just brings a dish and we don’t have to buy each other gifts ever time we go over to each others houses. But now we are prepared in the case of Swiss friends. We shall keep you posted if we ever need to use such rules! I’m not banking on it….
*Santé means “to your health” and is pronounced sonn-tay! You should try it at home.