Last week we discussed how to show civility when you are playing host. But what if you are a visitor in someone else’s home? As we head out for Thanksgiving get-togethers and upcoming holiday parties, it’s important to be courteous, civil, and appreciative… how else will you get invited back?
Here are a few simple rules for exhibiting great guest behavior:
RSVP as soon as possible. Don’t let an invitation go unanswered, and don’t just turn up without RSVPing first. And don’t bring guests unless the invite specifically states that they are welcome.
Don’t arrive too early or too late. Aim to get there no earlier than the official start time, and no more than 10-15 minutes later.
Don’t show up empty-handed. Ask your host if you can bring a dish or bottle of wine for the meal. Even if they say they’re fine, it’s nice to bring a bottle or perhaps some nice chocolates (which can be enjoyed later) just as a token of your appreciation.
Offer compliments. Try to shower a little praise on the host’s home, or the meal. And always thank them for having you over.
Offer to pitch in. If your host is still slaving away in the kitchen, ask if you can give them a hand. Even if they just want you to answer the door or pour the wine, they’ll appreciate the help.
Don’t snoop. Being invited into someone’s home isn’t the same as being invited to rifle through their closets and medicine cabinets.
Clean up after yourself. If you spill, clean up the mess (and apologize!). Offer to help with the dishes too.
Play nice with the other guests, but don’t dominate the conversation. It’s a party—mingle! It’s no fun when people stick in small little cliques, so make a point to introduce yourself warmly to the other guests and don’t spend the entire evening huddled in a corner. When dinner is served, wait for someone to finish chewing before asking them a question about themselves. If you notice that everyone’s plate is clean while yours has barely been touched, you’re probably talking too much! Finally, keep the conversation light and avoid potentially offensive subjects such as politics.
Don’t overdo it on the booze. Assuming you are not the designated driver, limit yourself to two to three drinks with dinner. If you’re not sure if food will be served at a cocktail party, eat something beforehand so the alcohol won’t go to your head. Try to alternate each cocktail with a sparkling water. And if you start to feel sick, make your excuses before it’s too late! It’s hard to live down getting sick in someone’s home.
Don’t overstay your welcome. Once dessert and after-dinner drinks have been served, you should focus on making your exit. It’s likely that your hosts are looking forward to relaxing after a long day of entertaining.