Etiquette Tip of the Month

Being a Perfect Party Guest

December is often the party month of the year, when invitations range from holiday celebrations among friends to the obligatory office party. To be the perfect guest, first be sure to make a distinction between a hosted and no-host event. A no-host party is sometimes given by an organization or association, where you may be expected to contribute to the proceedings of the event. A hosted party is one presented by an individual or firm in a private home, office, or event space where you will not be required to contribute anything to attend and while attending. Use these simple guidelines to be an exceptional guest at a hosted party. and find yourself being invited again next time:

  1. Always arrive on time. The reasonable arrival time for a party in a private home is within 8 minutes of the appointed time. If the invitation says 6:00 p.m., arrive between 6:00 and 6:08. Arrival time is less strict when the invitation clearly states the event is an "open house" within a range of times. In this case, it is best to arrive no later than within an hour of the ending time.

  2. Have the telephone number with you. In case of an emergency delay, call your host to explain where you are and when you think you will arrive. This is vital in the case of formal dinner parties and polite for other events as well.

  3. Say hello and good-bye. Upon arriving at a party, be sure to locate the host to extend your greetings and appreciation for being invited. Then find the host again before leaving to say good-bye and to acknowledge the wonderful party. 

  4. Bring a house gift. It is always a nice gesture to present a small gift of appreciation to the host of a party in a private home. However, do not ask the host to open your gift in front of you or expect it to be used at the event. Let the host set it aside for a more appropriate time. It is not necessary to bring a gift to a hosted party held at the office or event space.

  5. Sing for your supper. One contribution you should make at a hosted party is to participate. Help make the event a success by introducing yourself to others and engaging in conversation. Be prepared to join in whatever good-natured festivities your host has planned ... even singing!

  6. Eat and drink responsibly. Avoid arriving at a party hungry, stimulated to eat and drink everything in sight! If you find you have consumed too much alcohol, ask your host to call a taxi or find someone who can drive you home or to a nearby hotel. With good friends, a night in the guestroom may be an option: Drinking and driving is never an option.

  7. Never overstay your welcome. Plan to make your exit around the ending time stated on the invitation, or about an hour after the dinner is concluded. Stay longer only if you are sure the host is genuinely encouraging an extension. It is often merely a gracious gesture when your host enthuses, "Oh, don't leave. Do stay longer."

  8. Write a thank you note. As the final touch to showing your appreciation, and ensuring you get invited back, hand write a thank-you note as soon as possible following the event. A thank-you telephone call or e-mail are appropriate only among close personal friends.

BONUS TIP: Unless your host specifically requests your assistance with something, do NOT feel compelled to help in the kitchen at parties. Leave all arrangements to your host. Your task is to enjoy the event. Reciprocate by hosting an event in your home next time.

Happy Practicing!

If you have any questions, email me at I'd enjoy hearing from you.

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