Mind Your Holiday Manners
10 Tips For Being the Perfect Guest & Host
by Atlanta etiquette expert Patti Davis
The holidays are here – magical, snow-dusted and full of fun.They’re also a hotbed for stress. Here are a few simple tips to help you breeze through December, so you can enjoy yourself, whether you’re hosting the party or just attending.
The Perfect Guest
1. Always bring a gift. Always. Get creative. I even find inspiration at The Dollar Tree. You can pick up four wine glasses, a nice gift bag, pretty tissue paper and have only spent $6. Never bring anything that needs tending to (i.e., a puppy or a bundle of cut flowers that need a vase).
2. Be on time. Being late says, “Your time is not as important as mine.” This is how food gets cold, souffles fall and hostesses get weepy. Be on time.
3. Keep your drinking under control. With the revelry of the season, this can sometimes be difficult. At the very least, make sure you eat something with each adult beverage you drink, never (ever!) drive drunk and stay away from the rifles. If you live in the city, rifles might not be a problem, but those who live in country know what I’m talking about.
4. If you’re staying overnight, please make your bed and pick up your wet towels. These are your friends/family, not a hotel.
5. Follow up with a handwritten “thank you’” note. This only takes a moment and will leave your hostess with warm, fuzzy memories of your visit. No texts or emails, please.
The Perfect Host/Hostess
2. Do not make your guests wait for hours to eat. By then, they are face-planted in the bushes or, worse, getting ready to shoot some rifles (see No. 3 above). A well-fed guest is a happy guest. Once, I arrived at the home of some friends who had just come back from the grocery store and proceeded to ask me to peel five pounds of shrimp. Don’t be that person.
3. If a guest tends to be a wallflower, you might want to ask them to help you in the kitchen (not to peel shrimp) or mix drinks at the bar. Include everyone, and they will feel special and you will look like a star.
4. Save the incendiary topics for the debate club. Politics and religion are off limits at the dinner table. This is also not the time or place to give a dissertation on your current medical condition or recent divorce.
5. Never allow your guests to drink and drive. Take their keys, call them a cab or tuck them into the guest room and wake them in the morning with coffee and aspirin. You will be their hero.
Bonus Tip: No texting at the table. I regret that I actually have to mention this heinous behavior. You accepted or extended the invitation with the thought of spending time with friends or family. Live in the moment.
Patti Davis lives in Atlanta and teaches etiquette at DazzlingManners. She would be delighted to answer all your questions about manners and gracious living. Write to her at email@example.com, follow her on Twitter @DazzlingManners or like her on Facebook.