The BEST Party Guest
Lucky you! You’ve been invited to a party. Consider these traits of an ideal party guest before you attend your next celebration.
The best party guest…
1. … always responds in a timely fashion.
RSVP means “Répondez S‘il Vous Plaît” in French, which translates to “Respond Please” in English. If there is an RSVP line on the invitation, you must respond. Your host is planning food and drink, and in many cases will be committed to certain payment deadlines with caterers or bartenders. Usually these deadlines are at least one week in advance, so make sure you give him/her the courtesy of a response before then. Even if caterers are not involved, the host will need to do the shopping and seating planning, so the rule still applies.
Regrets only means you should reply only if you are unable to attend. Again, the decline of the invitation should be at least one week prior to the event if possible.
Note: Sometimes we truly don’t know if we can attend close to the deadline. In this case, speak with the host and let him/her know what the situation is. For example, “I’d love to attend, but I may need to be in New York for work. I should know for sure by Wednesday, and I will get back to you then if that’s acceptable.”
2. … does what he says he will do.
If you have responded favorably, do not cancel at the last minute because you do not want to go. While sometimes conflicts arise, do your best to find an alternative rather than canceling. It is terribly rude to no-show, or even to call and cancel, especially less than 24 hours before the celebration. Granted, we don’t feel like attending sometimes, but usually if we just go, we end up having a great time.
3. … asks if he can bring something.
If you are attending a dinner party, the host may ask you to bring a bottle of wine or a side dish of some kind. Try to match your contribution to the flavor of the party, and if possible, confirm your contribution with the host beforehand.
Note: If you are asked to bring a food item, place it in a nice serving dish, and have it assembled entirely before you arrive.
For instance, if you have something like a salad that needs to be assembled at the last minute, bring along a set of tongs, and place the lettuce in the serving bowl with each topping in plastic bags to combine at the last moment. This way, you will require nothing of the host. If your appetizer needs to bake, call ahead and make sure the host has space in his/her oven. If so, bring the item in the pan needed to bake it as well as the serving dish used to serve the item.
If you have an item that requires more prep work than these examples, find something else to bring. There is nothing more annoying than a guest who needs a serving dish or wants to make their dish in your kitchen needing pans, ingredients, time, oven space, burners, and so on.
Remember: The host has asked you to bring something in order to take some time and stress off of his/her hands, and it is your job to contribute to the party and make his/her life easier.
One last note: When the party is over, if the host hasn’t used the bottle of wine or the remainder of your dish, do not just grab what you brought and take it home (especially with wine). Rather, ASK if the host would like to keep the remainder of the items.
4. … is on time.
It is important to consider the type of party you are attending when determining your arrival time.
If it is a dinner party, the host/hostess has planned the timing of the food, and you must arrive on time to the function. On time means within 5-10 minutes of the time on the invitation; anything later is incredibly rude.
If it is an open house, you can most likely come and go between the times listed on the invitation, but do arrive within an hour of when the event is scheduled to conclude.
5. … brings a host/hostess gift.
If you are asked to bring an item, you do not need to bring an additional gift, but it is always a nice gesture if you choose to do so.
The same rule applies to gifts as to side dishes. Do not bring anything that will require effort on behalf of the host. So, for example, do not bring flowers that are not already in a planter or in a vase. If you do, the host has to go searching for the right vase and is taken away from the guests.
Here are a few gift ideas:
- Send or deliver a bouquet of flowers the day before the party. This way the host can plan how they will fit into the décor of the party.
- Bring a decorative candle, votive candles, tea towels, hand soaps, cocktail napkins, serving utensils, or cocktail stirrers. A favorite CD or board game can also be a fun offering.
- Bring something edible (and pre-packaged) such as chocolates, pretzels, flavored salts, quality olive oil, baked goods, mixes in a jar, a bottle of wine, or some sort of alcohol.
- Bring a small, indoor, potted plant that is easy to care for. Herbs can also be a unique idea.
- Get something personalized. While this takes some advanced planning, everyone loves items with their name or monogram on it. Examples would be note paper, soaps, hand towels, picture frames, and return-address stamps or stickers.
Make sure you attach a small card or label to the item with some kind words and your name.
6. … compliments the host/hostess.
Rest assured, this party has taken a great deal of planning and effort. Find something nice to say, and compliment the host/hostess during the evening. Consider the home décor, party décor, food and drink, personal style, or anything else you can find. Make sure you are genuine with your comments, and make the host/hostess feel appreciated for all the work he/she has done.
7. … asks if he can help the host/hostess.
If you are at a dinner party, ask if there’s anything you can do to help in the kitchen or at the bar. It is also nice to ask if you can assist with clearing the table, or cleaning up the kitchen after. If the host/hostess declines your offer, respect the wishes, and re join the party.
8. … minds his conversational p’s and q’s.
Take note of how the conversation is flowing. Choose appropriate topics of conversation avoiding politics, sex, and religion; financial topics should also be treated with care. Contribute to the conversation, but keep others in mind, and avoid rambling, monopolizing the conversation, or interrupting others. Do ask questions (a great conversation starter), and make sure to listen to the answers. Finally, try to be positive with whatever you say avoiding gossip or talking about others in a negative manner.
9. … drinks responsibly.
Keep your alcohol consumption in check. Take note of the pace of others at the party, and make sure you are not ahead of it. It’s okay to have fun and take part in libations, but do not get sloppy – or drive – when you should not.
10. … is thankful.
Make sure to thank the host/hostess for their hospitality as you leave the party. It is also nice to handwrite a brief “thank you” within a few days of the gathering. In the note, show your appreciation for the invitation and their hospitality, comment on the party itself (décor, food, drink, fun etc.), and speak of the next time you will see the person. If it was a small affair, or if you are particularly good friends with the host/hostess, it is also thoughtful to call and say what a wonderful time you had.
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