in: Character, Etiquette, Featured

• Last updated: September 25, 2021

How to Be the Perfect Party Guest

People enjoying christmas party with drinking illustration.

The season for parties is currently in full swing. For the party guest, the event is a chance to kickback and have a good time. But for the host, throwing a party can be a stressful endeavor. A host must worry about the decorations, the food, the entertainment, and whether their guests are getting along, having a good time, and behaving themselves. Take one worry off the host’s list by being a winning and polite guest. Not only will you help your friend’s event be a success, you’ll find more invitations to parties in your mailbox.

1. Always, always, RSVP. “RSVP” stands for “Répondez s’il vous plait,” French for “please respond.” When you receive an invitation that asks you to RSVP, the host or hostess is kindly requesting that you let them know whether or not you will be attending their function. Today the RVSP has come to be seen as optional. Some men believe you only need to call if you are coming; some think you only need to call if you are not coming; and some do not think you have to call either way. Sometimes RSVPing is avoided because you do not want to face the awkwardness of telling someone you are not coming and making up an excuse about why.

However, not RSVPing is rather rude. The reason you must RSVP is that the host or hostess needs to know how to plan his or her party. They must pick the proper venue to accommodate a certain number of guests, the proper amount of party supplies, and perhaps most importantly, the right amount of food to serve the guests. By not RSVPing you keep your host completely in the dark as they attempt to prepare for their function. The host is forced to guess and may then buy too much or too little food, causing them to overspend or experience embarrassment, respectively.

On that note, do not RSVP and then pull a no show. Again, the host will have allotted for too much food and party favors, and these things will go to waste.

If you cannot attend an event, simply express to the host your appreciation for the invitation and then apologize and say that you unfortunately have other plans. This excuse is always true-whatever you will be doing instead of the party are your alternative “plans.” If you like the host, make plans to get together another time. If you do not like the host (and this may be why you are not attending the party in the first place), simply leave it at that.

2. If you are attending a dinner party, offer to bring something. Cooking up a tasty meal for several guests is no easy task. Take some of the burden off the host by offering to bring the salad or dessert.

3. Always arrive on time. Part of the pressure of throwing a party is timing your food to come out exactly when the guests arrive. If you’re 20 minutes late, you will significantly add to the cook’s stress by having them worry not only about the taste, but whether the food is getting cold. If the food is not ready by the time you arrive, you simply have more time to mingle.

If the party is a large, come and go as you please type of shin-dig, being “fashionably late” is acceptable.

4. Bring the phone number with you on the way over. If you get lost or have an emergency, you will need to call the host to keep them abreast. Don’t keep the party waiting without any word from you.

5. Bring a gift for the host. A bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers are excellent choices. This is particularly appropriate for dinner parties.

People seeing wishes cards in christmas party illustration.6. Come prepared for conversation. Don’t be a party dud. On the way over, think of a few things you can talk about-movies you’ve seen, funny stories from work, and interesting news about yourself and your mutual friends. Think about the host and the other guests; what are they interested in and what kinds of questions can you ask them? Remember, you should almost always avoid controversial subjects such as politics and religion.

7. Eat and drink responsibly. Don’t come to the party famished, ready to devour anything and everything in sight. At a party in which hors d’oeuvres are being passed around, don’t put a ton on your plate. You’ll look like a hog. And no double dipping! Finally, don’t become inebriated.

8. Compliment the host. Tell the host what great food or what a great party it is at the midpoint of the night and then again when you are saying your goodbyes.

9. Help wash the dishes or clean up. Not all etiquette guides would approve of this, but we have made it a personal rule concerning dinner parties with close friends. If someone is kind enough to slave away in the kitchen making us a meal, we don’t think they should have to wash the dishes too. We always step in and do them. Your host may initially protest, but they will be inwardly grateful.

10. Don’t overstay your welcome. The appropriate time to leave is something you just have to feel in your bones. Things will be winding down, and conversation will hit a lag. At this point say, “Well, we’ve had a wonderful time tonight. I think we should get going. Thank you very much for having us.”

11. Write a thank you note. Within a few days of the party, always send a note of thanks to the host or hostess.

Got any other tips? Drop a line in the comment box.

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