Holiday Party Etiquette

We probably all have a party story to tell—one where things went horribly wrong because of something an invited guest did or did not do. And while you’ve certainly never held the role of the unthinking guest, below is a list of dos and don’ts that will have everyone talking about your party skills—in a good way.

Do pace yourself with your alcohol consumption if you’re party hopping. You don’t want to be the subject of conversation the next day because of antics that started with a little too much to drink at the first party, and then definitely too much to drink at the next. Have a plan for moderation AND a drive home.
Don’t come empty-handed to a dinner party. Bring a small host gift. Although a big bouquet of flowers might appear to be generous, a small bouquet that can easily be placed in a Mason jar is a lot easier for the host to handle. If you know the host is a foodie consider specialty olive oils, homemade treats or a bottle of wine.
Do be prepared in case the host of the party has a no-shoe rule and forgot to mention it. You may want to get a pedicure if you come sockless in your pretty party shoes. Or, if you’re wearing boots with socks, make sure you’re sporting a pair that you’re happy to show off.
Don’t arrive to a dinner party with hunger pangs. You don’t know when the host will have food ready, and you most definitely don’t want to drink on an empty stomach. It’s always good idea to eat a little something before you go. A piece of fruit and some nuts or half a sandwich could get you by until dinnertime.
Do put effort into having a party-ready outfit that shows respect and honors the dress code, if there is one. Plan your ensemble well in advance of the party so you aren’t doing any last-minute panic shopping or—worse yet—calling the host and canceling because you think you have nothing to wear.
Don’t arrive late to a dinner party. The host has a set time frame for when they would like to serve the meal. Don’t keep them waiting. If the party format is an open house, your arrival time isn’t as critical. But showing up at the last minute is tacky. You may think your entrance goes unnoticed, but it doesn’t.
Do keep your fragrances to a minimum. Not everyone loves your perfume or cologne. In fact, some people are allergic to fragrance. Be mindful of the other guests and consider going without a scent altogether.
Don’t wipe lipstick off using your host’s cloth napkins. Consider wearing a lip stain instead of a lipstick. Or have some tissues in your purse or pocket. Use them to dab your lips before they touch the linens. You can always reapply later in the powder room.
Do offer your assistance if you bring a complicated dish or dessert to share. Help serve your dish if presentation is especially important to you. Don’t make this the job of the host.
Don’t be the guest that never goes home. Unless you are staying the night at the host’s house, think about your exit plan and execute it in a timely fashion once the party has begun winding down.