Party Etiquette: How to be a Graceful and Gracious Party Guest

party etiquette

‘Tis the season for party hopping, elbow rubbing, glasses clinking, and cheek kissing. Unfortunately, gracefully navigating party after party can be downright exhausting!

If your social calendar this holiday season is booked with soirees and get-togethers, then these holiday party etiquette tips are just for you.

  • The Invitation — RSVP to each and every invitation you get — and do it promptly, for goodness’ sake! This will help your host prepare his or her spread of food and drinks. Waiting too late to respond may also make the host think that you’re waiting for a better invitation to come.
  • The Hostess Gift — It’s nice, especially during the holidays, to bring your hostess a gift. Wine and flowers are thoughtful and usually appreciated. I recommend bringing flowers in a vase so the hostess doesn’t need to dig one up during her party. Check out Molly’s post on hostess gift ideas for more inspiration!
  • Your Arrival — It’s proper etiquette to arrive at the time stated on the invitation. However, we know the importance of being fashionably late, so plan to knock on the hostess’ door within 15 to 30 minutes of the start time. Never arrive early to a party.
  • Your Entourage — Don’t bring guests to a party who are not invited or unexpected. If you have a plus one, be sure to introduce him or her to everyone you speak with at the party.
  • Be Thankful — Upon arrival, it’s good etiquette to seek out the host early and thank him or her for the lovely party. (This is when to give that gift!)
  • Noshing — The most important rule when it comes to eating at a party is to not overindulge. It’s good etiquette to only take one hors d’oeuvres at a time. Be sure to use the utensils provided when it comes to dip; don’t dip your food right into the bowl. And do not double dip! Be courteous and throw away disposable napkins and toothpicks.
  • Drinking — The not-overindulging rule also applies to alcoholic beverages. Let’s keep it classy, ladies!
  • Chatting it Up — Try to not be a wallflower, but also don’t dominate conversation the entire night. Avoid gossiping and topics like politics, business, and other potentially offensive, unpleasant, or debate-causing conversations. If you have a hard time saying the right thing during cringe-worthy moments, be sure to check out our naughty or nice conversation guide. ;)
  • Participation — If the host has games planned, enthusiastically participate (even if you’re secretly rolling your eyes inside). This means bringing a gift for an exchange or white elephant and not ducking out the backdoor when the host wants to play pin the tail on the reindeer.
  • Your Departure — Don’t leave too soon after you arrive to a party, but also don’t linger after everyone has gone home. Thank the host again before you leave. You may also consider sending him or her a thank you note within a day or two after the party. If it is a small party, try to say goodbye to everyone in attendance. However, if the party is large, it’s best to make a quiet exit.

Do you have any more holiday party etiquette tips? Please share in the comments below!

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