There are a few decisions to be made when holding a D/s dinner/tea:
1. Will it be female Dommes, male Doms, female subs, male subs, switches, a mix? All of these options have their pro’s and con’s - and it is totally up to the host or hosts (keep in mind, the host need not be a Dominant) as to the make up of the attendees. The one thing you need to keep in mind, especially if you know who the attendees will be, is personality. If you have a number of alpha dog type personalities, the more introverted type members might shrink and fade away. Conversely, if you have a large number of introverted shy types, this can make the more social extroverts go ballistic to overcompensate.
2. Are you inviting couples, some couples and some singles, all singles? If you have all couples and one single Dominant and one single submissive, that can be a bit awkward - better to have a good mix.
3. What will the rules be? Will submissives be punished for mistakes in serving? If so, this requires quite a bit of leg work as you need to get the consent of the submissives, you need to know what their limits are, this needs to be communicated to the Dominants present etc.
4. Will submissives be available for play or sexual service? Same caveat as with point 3.
5. What will be the tone of the event - formal with high protocol, semi-formal, casual, relaxed - this might dictate as well who you invite, and what happens throughout the evening.
Once you have these questions answered, then you can turn your attention to the more mundane matters:
1. Management: There are two key roles that should be decided upon, or appointed long before the evening - those being the head of the front of house, and the head of the back of house. The front of house will see to the dining area, ensure it is laid out properly, direct the submissives serving, watch the flow of the evening. This position is much like a majordomo or head butler. It may be a Dominant, but it is often, and can easily be a submissive - hopefully one with some experience. The majordomo might also be responsible for physically correcting the mistakes of any submissives present - depending on the chosen format and style of the evening. The back of house is most likely the head of the kitchen, or the chef. The chef is responsible for getting the food out, plated well, on time, hot etc. When submissives are not attending their designated Dominant, it would be best to have them assisting the chef - either via prep, plating, or washing. Like the majordomo, the chef may be a Dominant or submissive, and may be responsible for disciplining submissives who err.
2. Menu: Many events do not pay enough attention to the menu, and this I think is as important as the people attending. It has been observed by myself and my various co-hosts over the past little while, when we have hosted D/s dining events, that if you feed folks a carb rich or heavy meal, very little play will happen after - everyone will be in a corner of the room in a sleepy sugar coma. So, if the idea is to play etc., as well as have a nice meal, you need to give considerable thought to the menu. Do any of the guests have special allergies/intolerances/sensitivities? Even beyond that, do any of the attendees have physical limitations when it comes to chewing or swallowing? Nothing ruins a meal faster than a trip to the hospital, or having paramedics party crashing. I would like to challenge my fellow community members that when it comes to food at such D/s events, we really need to raise the bar. D/s is fantasy, and doesn’t fantasy deserve something better than the dinner special at your local takeaway shop? If you can’t cook, I guarantee there is someone in your circle who can - be they Dominant or submissive - appoint them as your head chef for the evening. Also, make it easy on yourself, prep as much as possible ahead of time, so the night or day of the event, it may be a little reheating, but mostly plating. Which reminds me, give some thought on plating - there are enough examples on Pinterest and the Food Network on how to make a plate look pretty. Maybe the best you can do is serve up a bowl of Alphaghetti right out of the can, but you add some micro greens, a few dots of chive oil, a dot or two of sesame oil - BAM.
3. Table Setting: There are plenty of examples of table setting on the internet - just Google table place setting and you will find a myriad of examples. The most common settings being the American style place setting, and the European style, but there are many others - Middle Eastern, Asian (in fact, there are many place settings that fall under the Asian umbrella). Choose one that best suits your menu, and stick with it - don’t give one place an American serving layout, but then set the next place for a Japanese table setting. Always have extra cutlery and plates available - you never know what might happen - a fork may be dropped, a plate is chipped (and horror, goes unnoticed). Give some thought on how the food will be served - individual plates brought to the table, food served around the table, food placed family style, buffet?
4. Seating: Depending on the tone of the evening, and who is present, this may dictate how the Dominants are seated. Does anyone have physical limitations or needs - do they need to have quick access to a toilet, or do they need extra room for mobility equipment? If the evening is formal or high protocol, you may want to consider if any of the attendees are titleholders (ie. Mr. or Ms. Leather/Bootblack winners), or the years of experience (notice I didn’t say age) of the attendees. If you have a small space, you might also want to consider the physical size of the Dominants, or the submissives serving them. That isn’t a body shaming crack, but nothing interrupts the good flow of service or of an evening when a Dominant or submissive has trouble physically moving about the space - not to mention, it can make your guests (keeping in mind the submissives are guests as well, even if they are serving) feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, shamed - and that is never good.
5. Service: Again, there are no hard and fast rules, but here are some links that give some great ideas:
Table Manners and Serving Etiquette
Allow the majordomo to set the pace - he/she/they will be taking cues from the head of the table/host/co-host. He/she/they will also provide the instruction to the submissives on how the service flow will proceed.
One idea I will advocate is, position yourself in a way so that you are not towering over the Dominant - no one wants that. The idea of having submissives serve kneeling, or in a crouch is nice, but again, you have to be aware of the physical limitations of the submissives involved.
A few suggestions/thoughts based on our experiences:
- When submissives do not have a specific job, keep out of the kitchen. The chef is trying his/her/their best to get the meal plated, on time, at a proper temperature - so he/she/they are moving about quickly, possibly with something hot or sharp in her/his/their hand. Having a submissive loitering about means besides keeping track of the time, what courses have to go out when, and all the myriad of other things, the chef has to ensure the submissive doesn’t get stabbed or burned. Do the chef a favour, get out unless you have been given a specific job. It frustrates me to no end to have to repeatedly tell submissives to get out of kitchen - and that is being nice - because the warning could be a stabbing or scalding - just saying. The same goes for Dominants - just no - your presence is not helpful, in fact, it adds pressure, and not in a pleasant or even enjoyable way.
- Nothing pleases me more as a chef than to have submissives who are eager to wash a dish for me. I dirty many a dish when I cook - and if I have prepped food ahead of time, that means many evenings of me cooking, and washing up. So please, do the chef a favour and wash a dish as soon as they dirty it (so long as you’re not getting in the way).
- Feed your submissive servers. This could be a buffet style of the food being served to the Dominants, it could be a totally separate meal, it could be a nice cheese and charcuterie platter - something easy that they can pick up with their fingers, munch, and then get back to serving. Serving is hard work, they are hungry, let them have the time to retire some place private so they can relax and eat.
- Having a submissive kneeling by a Dominant’s chair for a long period of time sounds sexy, but it is not very practical - especially during the main course, when that might be the perfect time for the submissives to relax and eat. Think of what is practical and enjoyable for all guests - not just the Dominants. If the submissives aren’t enjoying themselves, you’re not likely to have as many volunteers the next time around - and then it’s just a bunch of Dominants sitting around a table, wondering who will pour the water, and threatening to spank the cat.
- Do not touch the food the chef is prepping or cooking - unless you want to be shanked by a serving fork to the hand - just don’t do it.
- Have the drinks area or bar separate from the kitchen. Having less bodies in the kitchen ensures no one is hurt and it keeps folks from loitering in the kitchen.
- Nothing is appreciated by a submissive more than hearing “Please” and “Thank you”. Yes, they are submissive, yes, they are serving, but manners, especially coming from a Dominant, is sexy. It can be the difference between being served with grace, and being attentively served with grace.
- Cleanliness can not be stressed enough. Touched your hair? Wash your hands. Blew your nose into a Kleenex or hanky? Wash your hands. Touched the counter? Wash your hands. Smoked a cigarette? Wash your hands. Gone to the toilet? It shouldn’t need to be said, but yes, wash your hands. Food borne disease or illness is not fun, it can be deadly, it can mean a hospital trip for a guest.
- If the Dominants are seated, if a multi course meal, designate one submissive as being responsible for water.
- Service is not complete until all food items have been put away, dishes washed and put away, and the Dominants lack for nothing.
- If conversation seems to flag, or seems to be dissolving into a beef fest, why not have the Dominants and submissives submit questions that can be discussed by the group. You might even have previously prepared discussion topics taken from the web, for example, that you could draw upon.
- It is nice to have a printed copy of the menu at each place setting, as well as having a name place card for every Dominant. Maybe you are serving the Dominants a bowl of Alphaghetti, but it can be the niceties that make the meal memorable - and that’s what you are creating, memories.
- For the Dominants, with much respect, don’t try to outshine or out Dom/me your peers - you just end up looking like an ass. Also, if you make the event unpleasant by being cruel, rude, or excessively hard on the submissives, you won’t be invited back. For the submissives, with respect as well, don’t go out of your way to foul up. Accidents will happen naturally, and you may or may not be punished for them, but don’t go out of your way to drop a plate, or spill something - that is just some selfish behaviour and not at all attractive.
Whether formal, high protocol, casual, or even just a backyard BBQ, a D/s meal should above all else be fun, and a showcase where both the Dominants and submissives can shine. Stay shiny my friends!