Are you gearing up for a big New Year’s Eve bash? With some many celebrations taking place, it seemed like a good time to refresh everyone on proper party etiquette. A lovely occasion can easily be soured by a gaffe, which is such a shame.
Since I’m sure none of us want to ring in the New Year on an unpleasant note, brush up on these etiquette pointers.
Bring the host a gift. I’m always amazed at how many people show up empty-handed. Throwing a party requires a lot of time, effort, money, and clean-up, so the least you can do is pop by your local wine shop with a decent bottle of vino. Alternatively, a nice bottle of gin or scotch (depending on their preferred poison) is typically a big hit. If your hosts aren’t big drinkers, you might consider a box of chocolate, some fresh-baked bread or bagels for the morning, a gourmet cheese, or a jar of chutney or jam. Unless this is a pot luck, don’t expect the item you brought to be used during your visit; it’s a gift.
Don’t overindulge. It’s a party. Spirits are high, and drinks are flowing. You should enjoy yourself, but also bear in mind how much you can and should drink. Stay hydrated, don’t mix your liquors, and be sure to eat plenty of food. If you aren’t sure if a meal will be served, eat before you arrive. I find it helpful to make a pact with a friend and fellow guest to keep tabs on what we’ve had to drink; it’s easier to sit out a round and switch to water or sparkling apple juice if you’re with someone else.
Stick to safe subjects. We’re sure you have thoughts on tax reform and immigration, but a New Year’s Eve party isn’t really the time to bring them up, especially if you’re with people you don’t really know. If you’re bored of asking the standard “What do you do?” questions, try: “What’s your resolution?”; “What’s the best thing you did/read/ate/saw this year?”; or “If you could pick any career, regardless of pay, what would it be?”
Honor that RSVP. Give your host the necessary notice. Are you coming? Are you bringing a guest? Do you have any dietary requirements or mobility needs? The more notice they have, the better. Obviously emergencies (a sick child, a babysitter who cancels) can occur, but try to give as much notice as possible. And if your only excuse is that you’re feeling lazy, consider how that might make your host feel. People who frequently flake are unlikely to be invited back.
Don’t overstay your welcome. Most parties tend to hit a natural lull when it becomes clear that it’s time to say your goodbyes and head home. Follow your host’s lead. Are they tidying up and fighting back yawns? Do they keep asking about your plans for the next day? Have most of the other guests left? Your hosts will probably be too polite to say otherwise, but guests who linger after the party has ended, unless they have been specifically invited to stick around, can be draining. You can’t expect to be entertained and pampered all night long. Offer to pitch in with the clean-up, call your Uber or Lyft, and thank your hosts for a lovely time.
Don’t drink and drive. Enough said. And if you take a car service, be polite to the driver and leave a tip.