Are you on the guest list?
We always try to be a great host, but sometimes fail to think about the
flip side of the coin, guest etiquette. Here are some common sense but
important party etiquette tips that will make you a great guest.
It's true: We always think about how to host a party everyone will enjoy, but seldom do we think about how to be a guest everyone will enjoy. We should, though. And all it really takes is a little common sense and common courtesy. Here are some simple party etiquette tips:
Courtesy Call Call and offer to help the host with preparations or ask if there is anything you can bring, when appropriate. If you're asked to bring something, do it without fail; your host is counting on you.
Arrive on Time Arrive right on time for a dinner party and no more than 30 minutes late for a cocktail party. But never arrive early and surprise a host that may be making last minute preparations and not be ready for you. Never accept an invitation and then not show up just because you don't feel like going out.
Greet your host(s) soon after you arrive.
Dress appropriately for the style of the party or theme. Go ahead, get into it. And, I say, always, always ask for clarification of "casual attire." I've been surprised, twice now.
Gifts If the occasion calls for a gift, bring one appropriate to the occasion.
Food is fine if you don't expect it to be eaten during the party. At least, I know I'll never serve Spaghetti and Chile Rellenos again. But chocolates, cheese, or a good bottle of champagne or other wine are always welcome. I've never known a host to refuse Chocolate Fudge or Baklava. In fact, I think "bring fudge" warrants a permanent place among party etiquette tips.
Bring flowers only if you know your host(s) will appreciate them. They may be allergic to them or they may have their own flower arrangements to match the party decor.
Conversation By all means, converse. Smile, mingle and converse. But don't dominate all conversations; be a good listener, too. Don't leave your date alone in a corner, and don't bring your problems to the party. It's a real mood-killer. So are bad language and off-color jokes.
Food and Drink Eat, and especially drink, moderately. You'll only say something stupid, or spill something, or otherwise make a fool of yourself if you drink too much. (Report any spills right away so it can be cleaned before a stain sets in, by the way.) And no matter how much you love that one particular appetizer, don't hog it. Remember that dinner is dinner, appetizers are snacks. Eat accordingly, and don't come "starving" to a cocktail party.
Children If your young children are included in the invitation, bring them, and then watch them closely. You know how you remember horrible things like car accidents in slow motion? That's how I remember the times children have pulled dishes off the buffet table, run their fingers through the cake and sneezed all over the food at parties we've hosted. I can tell you, your host and/or hostess do not have time to baby-sit for you.
Clean up Offer to help clean up toward the end of the party. Your host may very well decline, but on the other hand, they may appreciate not having to face it alone.
Leave at a reasonable time. Don't be the last, or at least, don't leave long after the next-to-last guest. (I guess someone has to be last.) We have an old joke around our house that goes, "Let's go to bed, honey. These people want to go home."
Say Thank You Within a few days of the party, call or write a thank you note. Also, return the courtesy and invite your host(s) to a party of your own, or a barbecue, or out to dinner or just over for dessert. They'll appreciate it.
My family and I have had so many wonderful parties. But I
didn't realize until writing this how many party horror stories I have
to tell. I suppose this whole party etiquette article could be summed up
in these words:
Try not to be the object of your friends' party horror stories.