How to Be the Best Guest

Posted on 11/29/2012

Advice columns are full of suggestions on how to deal with difficult house guests and holiday party attendees. Ensure you’re not one of them with these easy tips.

…At a Holiday Dinner

  • Show up on time. When it comes to holiday dinner, you’re not being fashionably late—just late—and it can be stressful to the host, especially if they’re worrying about dinner getting cold.
  • Bring a dish. Ask the host ahead of time if there’s something you can bring to dinner, whether it’s an appetizer or dessert.
  • Bring a gift for the host. Something as simple as a bouquet of flowers can mean a lot to the host—and it can double as a centerpiece. Otherwise, bring a bottle of wine or a small home gift.
  • Offer to help clean up. No one wants to cook dinner and clean up. Even if the host refuses clean-up assistance, at least make sure to offer your help.

…At a Holiday Cocktail Party

  • Pay attention to your limits. Avoid embarrassing yourself (and other guests) by keeping your alcohol in check. If being at cocktail parties makes you nervous and drink more than you would normally, try alternating cocktails with a glass of water or soda water.
  • Have a snack before you show up. If you show up starving, not only do you run the risk of getting too drunk too soon, but you’re also more likely to devour way too many hors d’oeuvres.
  • Arrive ready to mingle. Cocktail parties mean plenty of conversation, so show up ready to work the room. Make sure to ask plenty of open-ended questions and come with something interesting to chat about, whether it’s a fun trip you’re planning or a great new restaurant you just tried.

…At Someone’s House for the Holidays

  • Be clear about who you’re bringing. Whether you’re bringing your dog or your significant other, make sure your host knows who will be coming with you, as to avoid any unwelcome surprises.
  • Follow house rules. It could mean no shoes in the house or it could mean quiet time after 10 p.m. on week nights. Either way, go with the flow—their flow—while staying there.
  • Bring appropriate pajamas. You might be used to sleeping in your underwear or a sexy, silky getup when you’re at home, but when you’re in someone else’s home, make sure to wear something a bit more PG-rated.
  • Entertain yourself. Your host isn’t a tour guide. Keep yourself busy, or if you’re intent on doing touristy things during your stay, take it upon yourself to make that happen, rather than expecting your host to show you around.
  • Bring a gift or send a thank you card. Show your gratitude by bringing a small gift or taking your host family out to dinner. Afterward, send a quick thank you note to let them know how much you appreciated their hospitality.
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