It was a delightful visit – perfect in being much too short ~ Jane Austen

Now that the weather is getting warmer, there are more reasons to emerge from hibernation!! Invitations to BBQ parties and other social events begin to fill our inbox. Party planning can be difficult because of the sheer amount of preparation that’s involved. Being mindful of what is expected as a guest or host creates a pleasant visit and happy memories. Follow these tips and at least you won’t be adding to the party planning stress of someone else.

Guest Duties

  • RSVP to your host promptly. Don’t bring other people or pets (unless it’s a service animal) if the invitation didn’t include them. Even if you get a better offer, nothing short of a medical emergency should deter you from attending. It’s a matter of your integrity.
  • Never arrive without a gift whether a bottle of wine, flowers, a favorite CD.
  • Never arrive early as the host may still be making preparations and your unexpected arrival will lead to more stress.
  • Don’t be late either… no more than 10 minutes especially if it’s a dinner party. If you are arriving later, let the host know ahead of time to make sure this will not be a problem.
  • Don’t overindulge in food or alcohol. Leave the host and the other guests with a good impression of you.
  • Never over stay your welcome. You’ll know you stayed too long if the host changes into pj’s.
  • Offer to help serve or clean-up.
  • Never forget to say Thank You when leaving. Follow-up with a thank you email if the party was casual or a hand-written, snail mail delivered card if the affair was more formal or you stayed overnight.

Host Duties

  • Always greet your guests with a smile and a warm handshake.
  • Keep your guest’s dietary needs in mind. If your guest is gluten-sensitive, have a couple of dishes reserved for him/her. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.
  • If someone brings dessert or wine, you aren’t required to serve these items if you planned to serve something different.
  • Be polite and gracious. If any of your guests ignored the invitation and brought extra people or the family pooch, take a deep breath.
  • Always offer something to drink or eat. Serve an abundance of non-alcoholic beverages. Be aware of your responsibility in terms of not letting anyone drink and drive. As host, plan not to drink very much yourself. Assign someone to mix drinks for the guests instead of letting people help themselves. Have plenty of protein snacks available and consider not serving any alcohol 1 hour or so before the party is scheduled to end.
  • Always mingle… spend some time with each guest not just the ones you know better. Introduce guests to each other, if necessary. Hold your drink in the left hand so the right hand is free and dry for shaking hands.
  • At the end of the evening, walk your guests to the door and thank them for coming.

Making people feel comfortable and welcome are the touchstones of practicing good etiquette. Understanding what is expected of a good guest means more invitations to future events and parties. And as host, whether a guest is staying for an evening or a week, being aware of the needs of others will make the visit truly memorable for all of the right reasons.


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