The Art Of: Being A Good Party Guest
Ladies, have I got a treat for you! I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was looking for contributors to The Glamorous Housewife and I received an overwhelmingly positive response. So many of you wrote in with your pitches and I loved reading every single one. I narrowed it down to a few ladies and I am thrilled to tell you that this is the first of the guest series.
Quite a while ago I did a little poll and one of the things that surprised me is how many of you wanted to read about everyday etiquette. Unfortunately this is not a topic I am well versed in. I mean I like to think I am a polite person, but I have been known to flip the bird a few too many times. When Sarah Carey suggested writing about the exact subject so many of you seemed keen to read about, I jumped at the chance! So please welcome Sarah to our little club here at the Glamorous Housewife. If you enjoyed this article be sure to mention it in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
How to be a good party guest:
Gracious living extends beyond the walls of our own homes. Being a lovely guest can help you not only to enjoy your own experiences, it can bring you closer to the people in your life and make you a welcome visitor at any gathering.
Whether you receive an invitation via mail or email, over the phone or in person, the art of being a guest begins with a prompt reply. Your hostess is making plans, all of which depend on the number people attending, and she is kindly inviting you to be a part of her event. Delaying your response gives the impression that you are deciding if the event is worth your time, and declining politely is far preferable than never responding at all. You owe her the favor of an answer, and the earlier a hostess knows that you will be joining the gathering, the better to help her ensure that everyone has a wonderful time.
Plan a Thoughtful Gift.
It is very kind to inquire if you can bring something to the party to help the hostess. If she has a specific request, by all means, follow it. Most often, she will wave off your offer of help, but do not take her response to mean that you should not bring anything at all. Rather than reaching for a bottle of wine, think about your hostess personally. What does she enjoy? Spend a moment or two to consider what might make her smile. Charming tea towels, gourmet olives or chocolates, special bitters for the bar cart, homemade jam … the list of ideas is endless. Flowers are always lovely, just make sure that you bring them in water to avoid having to find a vase upon arrival, and consider a smaller arrangement she might tuck on her bedside table since the party decor will be set before you arrive. Whatever you bring, be sure to include a little note; she might not be able to greet you at the door, and you want her to know that you appreciate her kindness.
Engage & Enjoy.
Your main role as a guest is to enjoy yourself. Nothing is less pleasing to a hostess than a guest who is bored, so assume that she has done everything she can to facilitate an event worth attending. The rest is up to you! Arrive on time, ask questions, and share anecdotes with friends, old and new. Ideally, you can leave your worries at the door and be open to enjoying the atmosphere. You do not need to be the life of the party, you simply need to be engaged. The most lovely guests connect with others and contribute to the general merriment of the gathering.
Pay Attention to the Hostess.
Your hostess is focused on all of the elements of the party. She is mingling and assessing the mood of the gathering, all while keeping a watchful eye on the kitchen, the bar, and the time. A good hostess is always aware of the time as she is following an outlined schedule. An elegant guest is able to follow the party’s rhythm by paying attention to the hostess herself. This approach is truly what differentiates guests. An elegant guest is not simply aware of her own conversation partner, she is aware of the hostess herself. Has she disappeared? Perhaps a pop in to the kitchen to see if she might like any assistance is appropriate. Is she trapped in conversation with someone? Offer to invite them into your own conversation, allowing her to slip away to tend to the next course. Has her hand been empty all night? Bring a glass of water to her with a smile. If you are close friends, she might have shared the schedule with you, and you can help to make sure that things are moving smoothly in a direct manner by answering the door, helping to get drinks, or just ensuring that people move about at the right times. No need to be solicitous, the goal is simply to be kind. Take your cues from her, and remember that a pleasant word can go a long way.
Send a Thank You Note.
No matter the size of the gathering or the reason for the event, a thank you note is always appropriate. Always. Address it to your hostess and let her know that you enjoyed yourself and that you appreciate her thoughtful efforts. Your note does not have to be formal and can even be sent via email if the invitation was electronic, but being specific is always a lovely idea and will help your note to feel much more personal. Although it is never too late to thank your hostess, it is best to send your note within one week of the event. Your words will be appreciated and long remembered. Being an elegant and thoughtful guest can help you to enjoy gatherings and also to strengthen your friendships. With just a bit of thought, your presence will be more than welcome and often in demand.
Sarah Carey is a housewife who strives to apply the graciousness and style of the past to modern living. She has a passion for fine stationery and needlepoint, collects teapots of all sorts, and dabbles in photography. Sarah resides in Washington, DC, with her husband and their two adorable dogs, Clarabelle and Buddy.