Whether it’s a casual get-together with friends, a formal company party, or a family reunion, navigating the social norms of holiday parties can be a bit daunting. To help you shine as the perfect guest (or host), here’s a handy guide to holiday party etiquette.
Do: RSVP Promptly
As soon as you receive an invitation, check your calendar and respond. Your host needs to know how many guests to prepare for, and nothing is more frustrating than uncertain numbers. A timely RSVP is not just polite; it’s essential.
Don’t: Bring Uninvited Plus-Ones
Unless your invitation specifically includes a plus-one, don’t assume bringing a guest is okay. It’s a question of resources and space—your host has planned for a certain number of people. It’s always better to ask than assume if you’re unsure.
Do: Dress Appropriately
Pay attention to the dress code. If it’s a formal event, embrace the opportunity to dress up. For a casual affair, neat and tidy attire that leans towards festive is a safe bet. When in doubt, it’s better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed.
Whether it’s food, drink, or both, moderation is key. Overindulging can lead to uncomfortable situations for you and other guests. Enjoy yourself, but remember that you’re at a social event, not a free-for-all buffet.
Do: Participate in Activities
If there are games or activities, join in! It shows your host that you appreciate their efforts and helps to create a lively, enjoyable atmosphere for everyone.
Don’t: Dominate Conversations
While engaging and conversational is excellent, be mindful not to monopolise discussions. A good guest is also a good listener. Be inclusive and encourage quieter guests to share their thoughts.
Do: Be Punctual
Arriving on time shows respect for your host and the event. If it’s a dinner party, being late can disrupt meal preparations. You have a bit more leeway for a more casual open house, but don’t arrive at the very end.
Don’t: Overstay Your Welcome
Pay attention to the party’s flow and your host’s cues. If the event is winding down, don’t be the last guest lingering. Leaving at an appropriate time is just as important as arriving punctually.
Do: Offer to Help
A good guest offers assistance with simple tasks, such as clearing the table or helping with coats. However, be respectful of your host’s space and don’t insist if they prefer to handle things themselves.
Don’t: Bring Up Controversial Topics
Stay away from divisive subjects like politics or religion. Holiday parties are meant to be enjoyable and light-hearted. Keeping the conversation positive and inclusive ensures everyone has a good time.
Do: Bring a Host Gift
A small token of appreciation, like a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers, or a homemade treat, is always a nice gesture. It doesn’t have to be expensive; it’s the thought that counts.
Don’t: Forget to Thank Your Host
A verbal thank you when leaving is essential, but a follow-up thank-you note or message is a thoughtful touch that will be much appreciated.
Do: Be Mindful of Allergies and Preferences
If you’re bringing a dish, consider common dietary restrictions and allergies. Labelling your dish with its ingredients is a considerate and helpful gesture.
Don’t: Use Your Phone Excessively
It’s rude to be on your phone constantly during a social event. Take photos if you must, but then put your device away and enjoy the company.
Do: Be Respectful of the Property
Treat your host’s home and belongings with respect. Use coasters, throw away or recycle your trash, and be mindful of noise levels, especially in a residential area.
Don’t: Forget to Smile and Have Fun
Remember, holiday parties are about celebrating and enjoying each other’s company. A positive attitude and a smile go a long way in making the event enjoyable for everyone.