Being the Best Party Guest
Being the Best Party Guest
It's that time of year for all-things-festive! And whether you're hosting or attending, here are some of my favorite tips on being the best party guest. Remember, you want your host and fellow party goers to remember you for GOOD things!
- DON’T show up right on time. Remember to give your host a little breathing room and ensure that you don't walk in on them doing frantic last minute preparations. Your host will have their hands full as it is with last-minute cleaning and cooking; they do not need you showing up before they are ready ... especially not with flowers that need a vase (see number 6). It should be come second nature to show up at least 15 minutes late. If you find yourself under that 15 minutes, whip around the corner, go get coffee just don’t be “that guy.” Few EXCEPTIONS: Dinner Parites - this is where it’s rude to show up more than 15 minutes late. A party where you know the host or hostess very well and feel comfortable offering to help out, your punctuality (or even earliness) will probably be welcomed. Lastly, if you find that you’re going to be late, text the host so they know when to expect vs., leaving everyone wondering where you are.
- DON’T spend the evening on your phone. Show that you’re engaged and not distracted by every single Facebook post or text message. It’s rude. EXCEPTION: Obviously if you have a baby sitter and need to check in, do so but do it discreetly. Otherwise, put your phone away just not on the dinner table. Larger parties are a bit more forgiving but at a dinner party, FORGET ABOUT IT.
- DON’T “ghost" without saying goodbye to the HOST. It’s not necessary to make a big deal about leaving, saying by to everyone as you go, but bare minimum, find the host and tell them thank you and that you had a lovely time. This will keep your host from fielding “where did so-and-so go?” all night long.
- DON’T bring something that requires a lot of prep. Showing up with something that will require a ton of prep space or kitchen time is a definite no-no. Chances are your host has been preparing, cooking and cleaning all day and counter space in the kitchen is at a premium. If you're needing to chop things and having to ask your host for knives, bowls, etc., things can get chaotic.
- DON’T show up with a posse or a surprise guest. (This is a big one for me). Be thoughtful in that your host has planned out how much food to have on hand, based on how many people they know are coming. Unless the host encourages inviting others, don’t. If you have a significant other and you know the host well, chances are they are expecting you to bring them. If you do want to bring someone last minute, ALWAYS ask the host. If they say yes, definitely refer to rule number 6. Personally thank your host for letting you bring your guest on such late notice.
- DO Bring a host/hostess gift - OR - Offer to bring something - I always find that the best thing and definitely least fussy gift is a bottle of wine or spirits. The exception would be if your host doesn’t drink alcohol, in which case, you can always ask in advance if there’s anything you can bring. If not, you can opt to bring a small bouquet of flowers or a nice candle for example. However, If you do bring flowers make sure they’re already in a vase. You don’t want your host having to scramble around for a vase when there are more important things they should be doing. I personally avoid flowers unless I know the host really well and know what kind he/she likes. Otherwise you take the risk of someone being allergic. Someone brought Irises once, I was sneezing all night!
Chances are good that your host will say you don't need to bring anything at all, just yourself, but offering anyway is standard party etiquette. It's also a way to help your hostess defray the cost of the party, which sometimes can run pretty high. And if you are asked to bring something, DO NOT take it home with you at the end of the night (unless your host specifically asks you to), this would be seen as poor taste.
- DO Offer to help when you can. If you’re visiting with the host in the kitchen as he prepares the food, be specific when you offer to help: “I’d be happy to prep the salad or fill the water glasses.” Even if your offer is refused, your gesture will be appreciated. At the end of the evening you can also offer to help with cleanup.
- DO talk to people you DON’T know - If you know most of the people at the party, these are all people you'll see again — Try going by yourself to get food or drink or simply mingling — this is a pretty natural time to chat up people you don't know. Talking to new people is also a HUGE favor to your host, who will have to worry less about guests who don't know a lot of people at the party.
- DO Thank your host twice. Always thank your hosts enthusiastically when you say your good-byes. A second thank you by phone or even text the day after the party is also a gracious gesture. If the party was formal or given in your honor, written thank you cards are in order. Though I will always say a written note is always appreciated—even after casual parties.
Sources: Jonathan Stiers, Apartment Therapy, Emily Post, Houzz, My Domain
Photo by Jonathan Stiers ©2015