What Your Party Host Won't Tell You
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Be Their Guests1 of 12
By Woman's Day
Life has become a lot more casual these days—jeans for work, texting instead of calling—but that doesn't mean that there aren't still rules of etiquette. Whether you're going to a cocktail party or formal dinner, here's what you need to know to avoid offenses or an embarrassing faux pas.
RSVP On Time2 of 12
"If there's an RSVP date, try to follow that," says Lizzie Post, spokeswoman for The Emily Post Institute and great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post. "Even if you're not sure you can make it and need to check your schedule, this is your chance to buy yourself a little time." She recommends calling or emailing to let them know. "This is also your chance to ask what you can bring, whom you can bring and what you should wear if it's not indicated."
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Bring a Gift…3 of 12
Unless it's a good friend whom you entertain with regularly (i.e. on a monthly basis) or it's a potluck and you're already toting food or drinks, bring a gift for your host. "A hostess gift goes a long way," says Amanda from Chicago. "It shows you've thought about how generous it was for me to open my home to you." And it doesn't have to be extravagant, according to Post. This is really a case where it's the thought that counts.
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And Leave It There4 of 12
Post notes that guests shouldn't expect their host to share the gift with them. "Your host gift does not have to be served that night, so don't be offended if the host puts it away. And if it's not eaten or finished while you are there, do not take it with you!"
ON WOMAN'S DAY: What Your Guests Won't Tell You
Don't Invite Others5 of 12
Whether it's your significant other, a friend or your dog, bringing an extra guest may just be the biggest mistake a guest can make, says Post. "As for bringing Rover, you don't know whether it's a no-pets home. As for bringing an extra friend, you don't know whether there's enough food." The bottom line is don't bring anyone—two- or four-legged—unless you've talked to your host first.
Keep Promises6 of 12
The last thing a host wants at a potluck dinner is just desserts and salad. "You don't know how the host has structured the meal. So if you show up with dessert when you said you'd bring an appetizer, you may have nixed out an entire course," Post says. "Make sure to call ahead if you're thinking about switching."
Avoid Criticisms7 of 12
Keep your negative opinions about your host's decor to yourself. "Don't make suggestions about how I should decorate my apartment," Amanda says. But that's not really enough, according to Post—you should also say something positive about it. You don't have to be over the top, but "at least say something like, 'Your house is lovely, it feels so much like a home.'"
Be Outgoing8 of 12
Even if you don't know anyone, attempt to be social. "There's nothing worse than seeing a friend or couple standing in the corner by themselves at a party—it makes me feel obligated to spend more than my fair share of time entertaining them when I need to make my way around the room," says Heidi from New York City.
Be On Time9 of 12
If your host is preparing a formal soirée (like a dinner, engagement or birthday), it's likely that they've timed their party prep very precisely, so showing up early throws off those last precious minutes they need to prep. "I think this is where the term 'fashionably late' came from," says Post. But, unless it's a casual cocktail party, it's equally bad form to be late. "Don't show up more than 15 minutes after the start time of the party," says Post.
Try The Food10 of 12
"Don't complain about the food or drinks," says Tracy from California. "Unless you have an allergy, you shouldn't say anything." However, Post adds, "It's important to let the host know if you are a vegetarian or a vegan. But because that is a choice of yours, it's also important to offer to bring a dish."
Say Goodbye11 of 12
Jeanette from Omaha, Neb., hates when guests leave without telling her. "Never leave without personally saying goodbye and thank you," she says. You don't want your host to wonder if someone was locked in the bathroom or got sick, but more important, it's ungracious. "If the host is mid-conversation, you can probably wait a couple of seconds," says Post. "This person had you over and she's wined and dined you, so it's only polite."
Say Thank You12 of 12
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's a little more involved than just saying thank you on the way out. "As a guest, it's really nice to call up your host the next day," Post advises. "You could even pop a note in the mail, or at the very least send an email." Not only is it polite, but it really makes your host feel good, and it will help him or her when deciding whom to invite next time!