Sure, you get invited to a lot of parties, but does that mean you're actually a good guest? Compliments and etiquette can go a long way at a soirée, but being a great party guest requires more effort than you might think. We asked Nathan Turner, an entertaining expert and interior designer, and Lulu Powers, who's better known as The Entertainologist, to share their best tips on being a gracious guest. From gifts for your host to dietary restrictions, here's what they had to say.
RSVP on Time
"Always RSVP by the requested date and be honest when you do," says Turner. And be sure to stick to the number of guests you've put down. "Don't show up with any surprises, such as another guest, a child, or pet," he says. Another gesture the host will appreciate: Arrive on time, and prepare to leave at the designated end-time.
Bring a Good Host Gift
We all know not to show up empty-handed, but try and bring a gift that doesn't require the host to do any extra work. "Bringing flowers can be a blessing or a curse," says Powers. "They're beautiful but also requires your host to find a vase while they're getting ready for guests to arrive." The best gifts, according to the expert, are the ones that your host can enjoy later, like homemade chocolate chip cookies.
A party isn't the time to stare at your phone. "A good guest is someone that shows up and participates," Turner says. "They interact with everyone—not just the people they already know." This means introducing yourself to new faces and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Lend a Hand
Being an exceptional guest might also mean getting your hands a little dirty. "If you see the host needs help, be willing to pitch in," says Powers. This doesn't mean waiting to be asked, either. "If they're struggling to get the table set, jump in and help. If there's no toilet paper, find some," she says.
Go with the Flow
"Don't call attention to your dietary restrictions unless asked," Turner says. "If steak is served and you don't eat meat—then just eat the sides instead." Unless you brought it up prior to the party, chances are the host didn't know and will feel embarrassed at the oversight.
Avoid Touchy Subjects Over Dinner
"Don't bring up provocative issues if they don't fit the party setting," says Powers. Discussing taboo topics such as politics is sure to get someone in the crowd riled up. "What you talk about at home with family doesn't always translate to social settings."
Don't Monopolize the Conversation
Pay attention to the crowd. "A bad party guest only talks about himself and what interest him," says Turner, "which can lead to other guests feeling excluded or, worse, uncomfortable."
Send a Thank-You Note (or Email)
After your host has gone through the trouble of organizing a party (and cleaning up!) a simple 'thank you' will make their day and go a long way in making you a memorable party guest, Powers says. Want to really wow them? "An email or text will suffice—but a handwritten thank-you note leaves a lasting impression that your host will remember for years," she says.