Party Etiquette for
Hosts & Guests
Parties are a great way to relax and have a great time with family and friends. But did you know there’s proper etiquette for hosts and guests? Not sure what’s expected of you as a host or a guest? We at Pottery Barn have outlined some of the standards to get you through the entire evening with ease, from beginning to end.
Party Hosting Etiquette
As a host, make sure that your invites are clear and sent out with enough time for guests to respond. Whether you send your invitations on paper, over the phone or through email, you should give guests ample time to plan and make arrangements to attend. Additionally, make sure that the time, date and location are all clearly presented on your invitations.
When guests begin to arrive, acknowledge each of them and extend a warm welcome as they walk through the door and into the entryway. Direct them to where they should go or where they can find refreshments. Be sure to make your guests feel welcome by engaging in conversation with each one of your guests at some point during the party.
Plan your party well, but also remain flexible. Make sure you can relax and enjoy the party too by having the food ready, the table set and the party space in order before guests arrive. It’s also important to be flexible and prepared for the unintended. Have food backups available and extras of everything in order to accommodate guests that show up without RSVP’ing.
When it comes to refreshments, be sure to offer alternatives to alcohol. Not everyone drinks, so it’s always a good idea to have options. If you’re making batches of punch, be sure to clearly label the bowls, so that guests can help themselves. If some of your guests have allergies, it would be wise to label your dishes.
Lastly, always be appreciative of the guests who attend your party. As they leave, bid them farewell and thank them for coming. If a guest brought a host or hostess gift, be sure to acknowledge and express gratitude for the kind gesture.
Party Etiquette Rules for Guests
As a guest, be courteous and let the host know whether or not you are able to attend. Even if no RSVP is required, it’s a kind gesture to acknowledge the invitation. If plans change and you are unable to attend after RSVP’ing, be sure to tell the host or hostess rather than just being a no show.
Pay attention to the start time listed on the invitation. Avoid showing up more than 15 minutes before the party is set to begin. The party thrower is likely still getting things ready and not ready to receive guests. Additionally, it’s proper party etiquette to call your host if you are held up or plan to arrive late.
It’s acceptable to bring a small gift for the host of the party, but not required. A book for the coffee table, candles, a basket of fruit or other household items all make great gifts. If you’re bringing flowers, be sure that they are already in a vase to avoid creating more work for the host.
It’s also proper etiquette to offer to lend your host a hand. Even if the host declines your offer, he or she will appreciate the gesture. Rather than asking if you can help with anything, be specific with your offer. For instance, offer to fill the water glasses or help clean up.
Avoid overindulging at the party. Moderation is key when it comes to enjoying wine and eating food. Be courteous to other guests by serving yourself a moderate amount and ensuring that there is enough for other guests to enjoy as well.
Finally, be sure to enthusiastically thank your host on your way out. The host or hostess has put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that all of the guests have a great time. For casual parties, you can also call the next day to offer thanks again. For formal parties, you can drop a card in the mail.