Chica and I have written many posts on hosting parties over the last year such as:
- New Year’s Eve party tips
- How to host a chili cook-off party
- Outdoor party tips
- Tips for throwing a party
- Football party ideas
However, I noticed that we have overlooked another very important party factor — how to be a good guest. Yes, that’s right, I’ve got a brief refresher course for you on being the person who gets invited to all the happening parties. Most of the points are common sense, but I have even found myself violating a few of these social niceties myself over the years.
- R.S.V.P.: I’ve been guilty of this major social faux pas myself a few times. Forgetting to respond to an invitation is very inconvenient to the party planners. Even if you aren’t certain you can attend, at least let the host know what your intentions are at the time.
- Timing is everything: Only arrive early to a party if you offered to help with the set-up before and your host accepted. Arrive at the designated time on the invitation if it is a dinner party. A finely tuned meal needs to be served promptly and being 15-30 minutes late for a dinner party might make the food not quite as delectable. For a non-dinner party, arrive about 10-15 minutes after the designated start time. This padding allows your host to collect himself after the last-minute party preparations.
- Don’t arrive empty handed: However, you also shouldn’t bring a food item to be served at dinner if you haven’t cleared it with the host first. Your host may have spent all day preparing a certain meal and an additional dish or dessert might not complement the other food, or even worse, might be better than what the host prepared! Wine is always appreciated but you shouldn’t expect it to be served during this visit. Some gourmet coffee would also be nice or some hand towels for the kitchen. My favorite gift to bring to a party is a “morning after basket”. Fill it with goodies such as orange juice, muffins, fresh fruit and a bottle of Tylenol just for fun. The host will have a wonderful breakfast already prepared for the next morning. For even more gift ideas, read my previous post on Gift ideas for the host or hostess.
- Help out: If you notice a dish is almost out on the buffet, offer to help refill it. No more toilet paper in the restroom? Ask your host where he keeps the extras so you can replenish it. Right before you leave, make sure you have at least returned any glasses or dishes you might have used to the kitchen. Pick up any additional dirty dishes or trash you see on your way. Every little bit helps. At a cookout, offer to man the grill for a bit while the host attends to other duties. Just imagine what you would want a guest to do or offer if you were hosting the party. Help is almost always appreciated!
- Mingle: I know it is hard to walk up to strangers to chat, but by engaging those around you in conversation, you will bring levity to the party and please your host by helping ensure that everyone is having a great time.
- Know when to leave: I personally don’t care if my guests spend the entire night at my home but most people do want you to leave eventually. If a party has an end time on the invitation, try and heed it unless the party is still going strong. Use your own good judgment here. Knowing when to leave is especially important at a kid party. Your host might have a set schedule with his kids and you would not want to disrupt it by staying too long. Kids also tend to start fighting with each other and getting rather grumpy after too much time together. Help pick up any toys and head out the door in a timely manner.
- Say goodbye and thank you: This may seem obvious but you would be surprised at how many people forget this, especially at a larger party. Make a point of giving your regards to your host and/or hostess even if it means spending a few extra minutes waiting for him or her to finish a conversation or finding him or her. I’ve been disappointed before by not getting to say goodbye to all my guests. Often, I have something for my guests to take home and if they leave without letting me know, they miss out!