Sending out invitations and RSVPs, figuring out the seating arrangement, deciding what fresh flowers to pair with the setup, making sure you have your cell phone with you at all times… modern party etiquette can become overwhelming for hosts, as well as guests.
Here is a guide to the basic party etiquette everyone should use to ensure that they still have friends at the end of the evening and maintain a good image in front of 50+ guests.
Take Invitations Seriously
If you’re the host and are sending out invites digitally, on paper, or over the phone, you must be courteous and kind. Do not demand that anyone show up to your event. Instead, ask them if they’re free and extend the invite to them graciously. Make sure to give them enough time to plan instead of taking their relationship with you for granted. Hey, family members can also have other plans, can’t they?
When passing on the invitation, make sure to communicate all the necessary information, including the address, time, and the level of formality expected. If your guests are tech-savvy, drop in a GPS location.
If you’re the guest, you must RSVP as soon as possible so that the host can make arrangements accordingly. If something comes up and you can’t show up to the event, make sure to let the host know in advance instead of just not showing up to the event.
Arriving Early Is Not Cool
While you should definitely show up to the party on time, do not end up going early. Planning a party is not easy. The chances are that the hosts are going crazy until the very last minute trying to fix a last-minute issue with the cleanup or cooking. Arriving before the given time will only embarrass and stress them out even more.
Instead, try to arrive on time or 15 minutes after the given time. The concept of arriving fashionably late is outdated. Why would you want to miss the prior fun? Respect your hosts enough to show up on time so that you can spend more time with them, and leave the party at a reasonable time so that the host has enough time to clean up before going to bed.
Gifts Are Cute But Be Smart
You should always get a small present each time you go to a party. It is a token of love to the host who has graciously invited you, along with many other people, and made the time to figure the food and seating arrangement. The least you can do is not show up empty-handed.
However, do not make your host do more work than necessary. Instead of getting a bouquet, arrange the flowers in a vase and give those as a present. If you’re getting dessert, try getting something that doesn’t melt easily because your host probably won’t have much place in the fridge with all the party food inside. Some gift ideas include a good-scented candle, handmade soap, tea towels, a fruit basket, or some decorative piece for the house.
Always Offer To Help
Offering help will never get old. Remember, even if your host looks like they have everything under control, the chances are that they are probably freaking out and going out of their way to ensure that everything goes well.
Instead of asking, “Can I help with anything?” and putting your host in an awkward position where they are forced to say no out of respect, ask, “What can I do to help?” This feels friendlier and more genuine. Even if your host does not let you help around, you can lay down food on the utensils or try gathering dirty dishes and transporting them to the kitchen.
Don’t Only Offer Alcohol As A Beverage.
While alcohol is great, you must keep in mind that not everyone drinks it. That means that even if you are making your famous martinis or specialty cocktails, you must keep a nonalcoholic option for your guests. Do not question them if they choose not to drink. Instead, please respect their decision and keep the party going.
You can keep the nonalcoholic beverages alongside the other drinks so that your guests do not have to ask you and make a special request specifically. This will only embarrass them or cause inconvenience. In case you plan on keeping alcoholic punch, make sure it is clearly labeled. No one likes their drinks spiked unless they are in the mood for it.
Set Out Extra Bowls
Having extra bowls of plates at a party is a must. People may want to get rid of an olive pit or a shrimp tail without having to carry it around awkwardly or keep asking each other where the garbage bins are.
To keep the atmosphere light and comfortable, try placing tiny bowls or plates near the food. You can even set an example by using a plate to get rid of some food remains so that other people feel comfortable enough to do the same. Without these bowls, people may not even bother eating some of the food, only because they think it will be messy and embarrassing to deal with.
Respect The Seating Arrangements
Casual parties or dinners are much easier to plan as there is no proper seating arrangement. People can sit where ever they want, in whichever room they feel comfortable in. However, if you plan on having a long table arrangement, it would be better to set out your guests’ names in advance and assign seats.
Figuring out where to sit and who to sit with at formal gatherings can be stressful and overwhelming. Instead, try to create a fun atmosphere by splitting some of the loud guests and placing them next to the quieter ones to get to know each other, and you don’t have to deal with awkward silence on one end of the table.
If you’re a guest at such an event, you’re most likely going to be seated with people you know. However, if this is not the case, go along with it. Take the time to get to know the people to your left and right. And lastly, don’t complain about where you’re sitting. Don’t make things difficult for your host.