The holiday season means more parties to attend and host. But throwing a party can practically induce an anxiety attack on the part of the host, especially if it’s not something they do regularly. Whether it’s an intimate dinner for 6, or a lavish affair for 100, the planning, organization, and execution of a party require time and effort. If you throw parties, you know what it takes. Planning the theme, inviting and confirming guests, developing the menu, purchasing food, wine, flowers, candles, etc. takes effort and care. Of course there’s also the cooking and cleaning. When you’re an invited guest, it’s easy to be a great guest, and to show your appreciation for the invitation! Mind your manners by following these simple tips, and you’ll be invited back again and again!
RSVP – This should be the simplest thing of all, but I’m often amazed when people don’t respond, wait until the last minute, or don’t show up after they’ve said they’ll attend.
Don’t be a maybe – It’s not polite to leave your host guessing how many to plan for. They need to know in advance how many guests to serve.
Never show up empty handed. Ask the host what you can bring. If cooking isn’t required, it’s easy to arrive with wine, flowers, or a small host/hostess gift. A kind gesture, not big expense, is all that’s needed to make the host feel appreciated.
Know if it’s a kid friendly event – Dinner at someone’s home doesn’t automatically mean it’s a kid friendly party. Ask ahead, and then offer to bring something for kids to eat (and do) in case there’s no kids menu or activity planned.
What to wear – Dress as if you’re going out! The party description should give you a hint. If in doubt, ask the host. You can’t go wrong if you look “smart but casual.”
To clean or not to clean – Don’t start the clean-up unless or until the host is doing so. While your host will appreciate your help, he or she is probably just beginning to relax toward the end of the evening. If you start cleaning, they’ll feel like the party is over!
Show your appreciation with a hearty thank you – A card is nice, but a simple and timely text, e-mail, or call the next day will make your host feel the love after the event. Simple gestures go a long way.
Table setting tips (for guests and hosts alike) – It’s fun to set a lovely dinner table. Be sure you know which utensil to use when! A formal setting includes wine and water glasses, salad and dessert forks, bread plate, and meat knife. Glasses should sit above the knives and spoon on the right hand side of the setting, with white wine and champagne glasses closest to the plate, red wine and water glass behind them. Bread plate and butter knife are placed on the left. Rule of thumb with utensils is to start from the outside, moving in toward the plate as the meal progresses. Pour wine from the right hand side. If place cards are set by the host, be sure to sit where you’re assigned.
Here’s to your next dinner gathering!
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