We are rounding our way into the holiday season. And with that time comes parties, gatherings, and family meals. Are you unsure what proper etiquette is for these affairs?
1. RSVP: This is an abbreviation of the French term, "répondez, s'il vous plaît." It means to please reply to the host/hostess on whether or not you will be able to attend. Many guests feel these days that the RSVP is optional, but the rules of good etiquette, and thus a good guest, dictate that you reply. Among other things, it helps the host plan for the amounts of food and drink to prepare.
2. Dress Code: Invitations will generally clue you in to the proper attire. Formal, black tie, and dressy casual are common dress codes. If the event is especially important, don't hesitate to ask the host about the dress code. And always play it safe and age appropriate. It is much better to be slightly over-dressed than to show up to a formal affair in your jeans and t-shirt.
3. Bringing Guests: You may feel that one more won't make a difference at a big party, but always ask the host if you may bring a guest. Yes, that even applies to small gatherings at a friend's home.
4. Bringing Food: At large family gatherings or pot-luck meals it would be best to bring a dish of some sort with you. It need not be home-made, just thoughtful. If you ask the host what you may bring and they say everything is covered, be sure to bring a hostess gift.
5. Hostess Gift: Unless this is a work soiree or large charity event, bring the hostess a small token of your appreciation. A bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers are time honored favorites.
6. When to Arrive: For formal gatherings the rule of thumb is to arrive within 10 to 15 minutes of the time noted on the invitation. For more informal gatherings you can arrive up to 30 minutes after the time noted. You don't, however, want to show up early. Your hostess may still be getting ready! And you could actually be in the way of her setting up. And you don't want to be more than 30 minutes late, unless you've let the hostess know ahead of time.
7. How Long to Stay: If the invitation doesn't outline when the party is set to end, it can sometimes be difficult to know when to call it a night. Watch the other guests for cues. When half of the guests have left, it's time to say good-bye.
8. Don't Be a Party Pooper: It is your responsibility as a party guest to be respectful of the other guests and to have a good time. Sulking or pouting in the corner do nothing but lower the overall morale of the event. If you feel a night of party pooperish coming on, then summon your party persona or excuse yourself from the soiree!
8. Saying Hello and Good-bye: Never come to a party without saying hello to the hostess at some point. And never leave without saying good-bye. The only exception is during a large affair when the hostess is obviously busy or in the middle of a conversation.
9. Thank-you notes: Even your grandma deserves to know that the meal she slaved over for a day and a half was appreciated. Sending a heart-felt thank-you card is always appropriate.
Follow these tips this season and you and your host are sure to have a grand time!
Written by Carla Hill
October 20, 2010
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