How to Be the Perfect Guest

The perfect guest is the yin to the host's yang. Opposite but complementary, he attends the party on the hosts terms, yet remains responsible for his own and others enjoyment. The perfect guest will help any party to run smoothly.


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    RSVP. When you receive an invitation to a party, whether it's a dinner party or an informal get-together, it's simple courtesy to let your host know whether you will be attending. This is particularly important for a dinner party, where they will need to know how many to cook for. A good host will have issued the invitations well in advance and may have given you a date by which to respond. You should always respond before this date, whether you can attend or not. If the invitation doesn't include an RSVP date you should still give a response.
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    Arrange the arrival. Your host will have told you what time to arrive. It is polite to arrive between 10 and 15 minutes before this time. This will allow your host an extra few minutes to make sure they are ready before guests arrive. You should always arrive early, particularly for a dinner party, so you can assist the host/hostess if they need it.
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    Join in. A party is only as much fun as the people who attend. You should do your best to join in wherever possible. Make conversation, get to know the other guests, and have fun. If the host has planned some games or other events, take part.
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    Drink responsibly. Casual drinking may help the guests relax and become sociable, but keep track of your consumption. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.
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    Don't outstay your welcome. If the invitation stated a time for the party to finish, you should offer to help with cleanup at that time and if the host declines you should thank them and bid them good night. You don't know what else your host has planned - they may have a busy day the next day, or may simply be exhausted from the party and want to sleep. Of course they may be enjoying the party and want it to continue, in which case they should make it clear to you that they want you to stay.
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    Say thank you. After your host has gone to all the trouble of putting a party together, the least you can do is express your gratitude. This will let your host know that someone appreciated their efforts. For a drinks party or informal gathering, a simple phone call will do the job perfectly. For a more formal dinner party, it's polite to send a postcard or short letter. If you've stayed for the weekend, you should send a letter.
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    If you are in your late teens to early twenties and at a party with the same age group, you should still act courteously but may be less formal. Use judgment.


  • If you take a gift, you should never expect it to be used on the night. Instead, give it to your host and suggest they save it for their own use later.
  • If you are going to arrive late, you should call ahead to let them know, or they may think you've forgotten. It is very rude to arrive any later than half an hour after the stated arrival time.
  • Some people like to take a small gift to thank the host for their hospitality. Champagne or other small consumables like chocolate or preserves are always a good idea.

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Categories: House Guests | Etiquette