Official Entertaining

Official Entertaining

The information contained herein is quoted from A Guide To Protocol And Etiquette For Official Entertainment (Pamphlet No. 600-60 Headquarters Department of the Army Washington, D.C., dated 15 October 1989)


Often the Army officer is required to deal officially and socially with distinguished officials of his/her own country, as well as those of foreign countries. A knowledge of the correct protocol and etiquette for all occasions makes him/her feel at ease in these relationships. When a guest in a foreign country, the officer conforms with its customs. When a host in a foreign country, he/she observes the social customs and formalities of his/her own country.

  1. The host. Normally, the senior local commander is the host when foreign dignitaries are visiting Army installations. When senior officials of the Army and officials of other governmental agencies or foreign governments are visiting at the same time, the senior Army official is the host for the Army.
  2. Guest of honor.
    1. When the guest of honor is a high-ranking official, the custom is to let him choose the date for the occasion and to consult personal staff about the guest list and general arrangement.
    2. After these steps, a formal invitation with “To remind” written on it is sent to the guest of honor.


  1. Formal Reception. The formal reception is used more within military circles than in the private sector.
    1. The formal reception has provided a means by which military and civilian personnel get to meet the Honoree upon his/her selection to a position or departure from the same.
    2. Formal receptions are also convenient for other special events, such as a wedding reception honoring a newly married couple, or introducing a group of newly arrived individuals and spouses to other members of the organization.
  2. Planning the reception. An aide or protocol officer responsible for the arrangements for a reception must carefully plan for it. A check list for use in planning and conducting a reception is at Appendix D. Some points to keep in mind:
    1. In addition to flowers and potted plants, decorations generally include the flags of the nations whose representatives are guests, as well as the personal flags of high-ranking officials in the line.
    2. A carpet runner is often laid from the entrance of the room to the end of the receiving line. However, this is not mandatory and may be excluded for reasons of safety.
    3. It is thoughtful to provide nearby seating so that those receiving guests may rest occasionally.
    4. If there is a band, the acoustics are checked, and the musical selections are discussed with the bandmaster.
    5. Arrangements are made for appropriate photographs.
    6. The bar and buffet tables are separated to avoid congestion at either end of the room. The buffet tables are attractively decorated with flowers or a novel centerpiece.
    7. Soft drinks are made available for guests who do not drink alcoholic beverages.
    8. A group of junior personnel (officers, NCOs, enlisted) may be stationed at the entrance to the building to greet and escort distin-guished guests to the receiving line.
  3. The receiving line.
    1. Formal luncheons, receptions, and dinners usually have a receiving line to afford each guest the opportunity to greet the host, hostess, and honored guests. The receiving line should be kept as small as possible.
    2. Arrange receiving lines for official functions as below.
      1. Host
        Guest of honor
        Spouse of guest of honor
      2. Host
        Guest of honor
        Spouse of guest of honor
    3. When a chief of state is the guest of honor, the host and hostess relinquish their positions and the line forms with the chief of state, spouse of the chief of state, the host and hostess. At the head of the line there is an aide-de-camp or an adjutant to announce the guests.
    4. Guests should not shake hands with the aide or staff officer receiving the name of the guests. Guests give only their official titles or “Mr.” (Mrs.) (Miss) (Ms.) Jones. The aide presents the guest to the host who, in turn, presents him or her to the guest of honor (or hostess). The guest, in proceeding down the line, simply shakes hands and greets each person with a “How do you do?” or, in the case of a friend or acquaintance, “Good evening, Sir John,” or “It is good to see you again, Sir John.” Because names do not travel well, the guest should repeat his or her name to any person in the line to whom it has obviously not been passed. The receiving line is no place for lengthy conversation with either the hosts or the honored guests.
    5. One rule remains unchanged and should not be broken: Do not receive guests or go through a receiving line holding a cigarette or a drink.
    6. Some hosts invite a man closely associated with the occasion to stand at the end of the line so that a female need not be in this position. Other hosts feel that this is incorrect, since a reception is to honor certain individuals only. If a man of sufficient seniority who has an important connection with the function is not present, it is better not to have any man at all at the end of the line. It is not proper to station a randomly selected junior officer who has no connection with the guests of honor at the end of the line.
    7. When does the man precede his lady in going through a receiving line? The old ruling of “ladies first” should be followed upon all occasions other than White House or diplomatic visits. At the White House, for instance, the man goes down the line first. Many of the guests will have official titles and it is easier for an aide to recognize the official and to announce, “The Secretary of State” as he presents the Cabinet officer, quickly followed by “and Mrs. Smith.” The relationship of the couple is clarified more easily than when the procedure is reversed.
    8. Unless the function is very large, hosts usually receive for 30 minutes from the time given on the invitation and then join their guests. Therefore, it is necessary for guests to be punctual. Other-wise, they are not announced and will have to seek out their hosts and apologize. At a large function it may not be possible for latecomers to be introduced to the guests of honor. In any case, this is a matter for the discretion of the host.
  4. Positioning the receiving line. Sometimes the question arises whether the receiving line should be on the guest’s right or left as they enter the reception area.
    1. If the entrance doors are on the right side of the reception room (as viewed by the approaching guests), it is proper (space permitting) to have the line on the guest’s right. To have the line on the left would have the effect of running the guests down a corridor between the receiving line and the wall of the room.
    2. Another advantage of having the line on the right is that if a host rather than a hostess officiates, each woman in the receiving line would be to the right of her male counterpart.
    3. The established rule of always having the female on the male’s right should not control if this would make the receiving line awkward.
    4. The line should be stationed so that the guests may pass smoothly and conveniently to the gathering of the other guests.


  1. Placement. At military receptions and dinners, especially when general officers are present, the custom is to display appropriate national colors and distinguishing flags in the “flag line.”
    1. The flag line is centered behind either the receiving line or the head table.
    2. Flags displayed behind the receiving line or head table are arranged in order of precedence. The flag of the United States is always located at the place of honor, i.e., the flag’s own right (the observer’s left), regardless of the order or location of individuals in the receiving line. When a number of flags are grouped and displayed from a radiating stand, the flag of the United States is in the center and at the highest point of the group.
  2. Order of precedence.
    1. The flag of the United States is always displayed when foreign national flags, State flags, positional flags, individual flags, the United States Army flag, or other organizational flags are displayed or carried.
    2. The order of precedence of flags is as follows:
      1. The flag of the United States.
      2. Foreign national flags. Normally, these are displayed in alphabetical order (English alphabet).
      3. Flag of the President of the United States of America.
      4. State flags. Normally, these are displayed in order of admittance to the Union (See Appendix B). However, they may be displayed in alphabetical order. Displayed after the State flags are the territorial flags.
      5. Military organizational flags in order of precedence or echelon.
      6. Positional flags in order of status or rank (see chap 3 and AR 840-10, fig 1-1).
      7. Personal flags in order of rank.
  3. General officer flags.
    1. For each general officer present at a reception or dinner, only one general officer “star” flag for each grade is displayed, regardless of the number present for each grade.
    2. If two or more services general officers are represented, “star” flags for each Service are displayed. The “star” flag of the senior officer precedes the others. This is always correct, but at large gatherings, where many distinguished persons are present, it is equally proper to display only the flag of the senior official present.
    3. Positional flags take precedence over personal flags. It is incorrect to display a four-star personal flag for the Chief of Staff or Vice Chief of Staff of the Army. When these individuals visit an installation or agency, someone in the official party normally carries a positional flag for this purpose.
    4. Personal colors for retired general officers are not authorized for public display (para 3-33, AR 840-10), except when:
      1. The ceremony is military in nature.
      2. The retired general officer is the honoree.
      3. The retiree is in uniform.
  4. Flags of other nations. A flag of one nation is never flown above the flag of another nation in time of peace (175(g) 36 U.S.C.). The exception to this is when the President directs that the flag of the United States be flown at half staff. In this instance the flag of the United States will be flown at half staff whether or not the flag of another nation is flown at full staff alongside the United States flag.


There are different plans for seating guests at dinners, luncheons, and banquets. The social occasion determines the best plan to use.

UNFORTUNATELY THE PAM600-60 pdf DOCUMENT IS MISSING PAGE 16 and without it this section doesn't make any sense.


Completely formal entertaining has practically disappeared from the American social scene because it requires a well-trained staff and expensive table furnishings. For these reasons, informal dinners have now become usual. Details of strictly correct service, elaborate table settings, and formal menus can all be studied in general etiquette books. There may be times when the traditional formality of the past may need to be observed on some occasions, particularly abroad. Thus, a few principles are reviewed here to help those who may be required to attend a formal dinner.

  1. Dinner partners. At formal dinners, each man escorts the dinner partner, who sits on his right, to the dinner table. The exception is one couple who go in together, but find their seats at opposite sides of the end of the table.
    1. Each man may learn his partner’s name from cards in small envelopes arranged on a silver tray in the entrance hall. At large dinners in hotels or clubs, a tray of name cards is usually placed in the room where cocktails are served.
    2. Each man opens his envelope or card in time to meet his dinner partner. The host makes certain that every man either knows or is presented to his dinner partner. At large official dinners, the aides make the introductions.
    3. After noting the name of his dinner partner or his card, each man checks the seating chart. The chart is usually displayed near the tray of name cards. It is generally a table-shaped board which shows the location of each guest’s seat at the table.
    4. The host leads the way to the dining room. He escorts the ranking female and seats her at his right. The hostess comes next with the ranking male, unless the guest of honor is of a very high position. In this case, the host (hostess) and guest of honor enter the dining room first. The host or hostess and ranking female (male) enter next. All other guests follow in pairs, in no particular order of precedence.
  2. Place cards.
    1. The place cards most generally used are heavy white cards about 2 inches high and 3 inches long. The flag of the hosting official or general officer or a unit crest may be embossed or stamped in the handwritten in black ink. If two people of the same rank and last name are present, a first initial may be used. upper left corner or top center. The title or rank and surname are
    2. Sergeants through master sergeants are referred to as “sergeant;” sergeants major, command sergeants major and ser-geants major of the Army as, “sergeant major.” Second lieutenant and a first lieutenant are referred to as “lieutenant,” and lieutenant colonels and colonels as “colonel,” and all general officers as “general.”
  3. Smoking at the table. Smoking between courses or before the toasts is frowned upon at dinners. If there are ashtrays and cigarettes at each place, guests should be careful not to smoke at the table until the host or hostess sets the example. The safest rule to follow is: When there is the slightest doubt about smoking, don’t, Remem-ber, too, that most dinner guests do not appreciate the aroma of pipe and cigar smoke.
  4. Interpreters. An interpreter may be required at a dinner for a foreign dignitary. The interpreter should sit close to the dignitary and the person for whom he is interpreting. His duties are so demanding that he will find it difficult to eat and interpret effectively at the same time.
  5. Thank you notes.
    1. A thoughtful guest will always write a thank you note to the host/hostess who has entertained him or her. It is also thoughtful to send flowers or a gift for very special occasions.
    2. It is generally not necessary to write a thank you note for large official functions, such as a reception to which hundreds of guests have been invited.


  1. Toasts are given upon various occasions—at wedding recep-tions, dinners, birthday parties, anniversaries, and dining-ins. Today we honor individuals and/or institutions by raising our glasses in a salute while expressing good wishes and drinking to that salute. Etiquette calls for all to participate in a toast. Even non-drinkers should at least raise the glass to the salute.
  2. Those offering a toast, male or female, should stand, raise the glass in a salute while uttering the expression of good will. Meanwhile, the individual(s) being toasted should remain seated, nod in acknowl-edgement, and refrain from drinking to one’s own toast. Later, they may stand, thank the others, and offer a toast in return. A female may respond with a toast or she may remain seated, smile at the person who toasted her and raise her glass in a gesture of “Thanks, and here’s to you.”
  3. At a formal event, the host initiates the toasting, Mr. Vice/Ma-dame Vice at a Dining-in, or any guest when the occasion is informal. The subject of the toast is always based upon the type of occasion. General toasts would be “to your health,” or to “success and happiness,” while special occasions such as weddings or birthdays would require toasts more specific in nature such as, “to Mary and John for a life time of happiness and love” in the case of a wedding, or on a birthday, “may your next 25 years be as happy and as successful as your first 25 years.”
  4. When you are the one making the toasts at a formal occasion, you must be well prepared. You must have advance information about the person or persons to be toasted in order that your remarks are pertinent, related to the individual, and are accurate. If he or she is a close friend you may make a more personal remark.
  5. Toasts are generally given at the end of a meal, during or after dessert as soon as the wine or champagne is served and before any speeches are made. Toasts at dining-ins or dining-outs are often presented just prior to being seated for the meal.
  6. At a small dinner a toast may be proposed by anyone as soon as the first wine has been served, and guests stand only if the person giving the toast stands. More than one toast may be drunk with the same glass of wine.
  7. For toasts to foreign guests or to heads of state, contact HQDA (DAMI-FLT), Foreign Liaison Protocol, AV 225-0835.