Here at TTF HQ, we’ve discussed at length how to throw a great party, but what about being a great party guest? Whether you’re going to your office holiday party, a wedding, a small intimate dinner party, or an epic New Year’s Bash, the rules are always the same:
- Show up at a reasonable time
- Bring a gift
- Don’t make a mess
- Try not to overstay your welcome
Showing up at a reasonable time
RSVP on time. Always do this and do it promptly. There’s nothing worse than not RSVPing and then just randomly showing up. Hosts count on RSVPs in order to get an accurate headcount so they they know how many favors to buy and how much food to order/make. Don’t make it harder for them by not RSVPing. Plus, electronic invites now have timestamps where the senders can see when people open them. So if you have a tendency to just open up an invitation and then do nothing about it, they’ll know.
Don’t bring random plus ones. Make sure to check if bringing a plus one is okay with the host. If the invitation only says your name, that likely means that only you are invited. Same with children, if the invite says “The Parker Family,” that means your kids are more than welcome. If not, then the host is likely not expecting any kids to be there.
Dietary Restrictions. It’s simple, if you’re going to a party with 20+ people, just figure out your own food situation on your own or eat beforehand if necessary. Don’t make the host make a special menu to cater to your specific needs. If it’s a smaller gathering, then let the host know ASAP after you get the invite so that they have plenty of time to come up with a game plan. Otherwise, ask if it’s ok to bring your own dish to share with everyone.
Yes, bring a gift. Since when have we become a society where suddenly it’s become ok to show up empty handed to parties? Even if it’s not a formal dinner party, it’s always appreciated to bring a token of your appreciation. Hosting a party is a ton of work so being invited as a guest is an honor. A nice bottle of wine, a cute potted plant, or even some high quality tea would make a perfect hostess gift. Whatever you do, don’t bring flowers or anything that would have to be refrigerated. Their fridge is probably jam-packed from prepping for the party and the last thing the host will want to do is be running around looking for a vase to put flowers in.
No, don’t bring food, unless it’s a potluck. You may mean well. You might have an incredible recipe that you want people to try. But seriously, if they say “don’t bring anything” or “just bring your appetites” then don’t bring anything. They might have a specific theme planned for their menu. Save that special recipe for one of your own dinner parties where you can be in the spotlight. Imagine if they had a chocolate fountain planned for dessert but then you brought a giant sheet cake. Now the hostess will feel obligated to cut up your cake and all the guests will fill up on the cake that you bought at the last second instead of having the special dessert that was planned out all along.
Show up just a little bit late. Whatever you do, DON’T show up early. Even if they’re not running behind (not likely) the host does not want you there before the expected time. Menus are often calculated to be served at specific times so when you show up early, that throws off everyone’s timing. Not only that but instead of prepping for the party, now the host will feel obligated to entertain you while all they really want to do is to keep getting ready. If you’re DYING to help, call and ask ahead of time if it would be ok if you came over early. Don’t just randomly show up, no one wants to see you so early.
Don’t be a hot mess
But if you’re running super late, make sure to call. While you should show up a little late, don’t show up crazy late without any warning. If it’s an intimate gathering, people may be waiting for you. Even if it’s a large party, don’t just assume people won’t notice you’re not there. If you’re an invited guest and you RSVP that you’ll be there, you have set up an expectation that you’ll be there by a certain time. Anything more than 45 minutes late deserves a phone call and apology that you’re running late.
If you spill/break something, tell the host/hostess right away. You just spilled some wine. Don’t freak out, it’s not the end of the world. But don’t be that guest that makes a mess and then tries to cover it up by putting a chair over it. If one of your children made the mess, MAKE SURE that you clean up that mess. Don’t make other people who are not paid to do it clean up after your kids.
Mingle with other people. Don’t be hesitant to leave conversations in order to bounce around and socialize with other people. I just like to say, “it was great talking to you, now if you’ll excuse me…” and then move on to the next crowd. The whole point of a party is to mingle with a big group of people, so it’s not out of line for you to talk to everyone. You’re not obligated to stick next to anyone.
Bring in anyone shy into conversations. If you’ve been at a party where you didn’t know anyone, you understand. If you see someone staying on the sidelines because they’re introverted or simply don’t know anyone, try to go out of your way to bring them into conversations and make introductions. Any extra effort to include others will surely be highly appreciated.
Don’t overstay your welcome. Don’t be the last person at the party. Unless you’re a super close friend and you’re helping them clean up, just get out. Actually, even if you are a close friend, don’t stay really late if you’re not going to help them clean up. No one wants you there super late. Don’t drink too much and be passed out on a bed. If the food is packed up and the music is off, that should be your cue to start heading out (whether or not the host is insisting that it’s fine for you to stay).
Saying goodbye. If there’s less than a dozen people at the party, then you need to say goodbye to the host. But if there’s more, then it’s perfectly fine to duck out and then just send a follow up email or note to say thank you for a great night.
Sending a thank you card. If you received a paper invitation, then send a handwritten thank you note a few days after the party. If it was more of an informal event then it’s fine to send an email and/or text to say thank you for a wonderful evening.
Now that you’re in the know on how to be the BEST party guest, be sure to check out TTF’s Best Party Planning Guide too! Happy Nomming!