This sounds silly, but have you ever spent hours getting food ready, timing it perfectly so it's hot right as guests arrive, but then had to spend half an hour convincing your guests to grab a plate? Don't be shy. Jump in and enjoy what your host has cooked up (or catered) because it's for you!
Mix and Mingle
The hostess can't talk to everyone at once. It always makes me so happy to see guests introduce themselves to one another and start conversations. I love how Lysa Tekeurest's book Uninvited talks about using social settings as opportunities to look for those who are on the outskirts, sitting alone, and make them feel included. Instead of wondering who is going to talk to you, look around and see who needs a friend. It's always a good idea to come with a few funny stories (funny, not complaints about some "terrible" thing that happened to you) in your back pocket to use as conversation starters.
Do a Clean Sweep
I also would NEVER ask my guests to clean anything. In fact, if I do spot a guest cleaning up I tell them to stop. BUT, to my point above, if you're feeling awkward or don't know who to talk to, find something to do. Take a stack of plates to the kitchen. Pass out cake. Go around and see who needs more coffee. It's a great way to busy yourself if group settings aren't your favorite and it helps the host. Have you ever had a bunch of kids over and when they leave you realized someone picked up all the toys? It's as refreshing as a day at the spa.
Dress to Impress
My theory is that it's always better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. A guest who shows up looking their best is excited to be there. (See above.) In the past, we've thrown big Christmas parties and noted "festive attire" on the invitations. Guests who show up in a sparkly dress, crazy Christmas sweater, or wearing a Santa hat are my favorite. Never miss an opportunity to dress up. Even if it's a casual get-together, look your best.
The next day, or even on your way home, let your host know how much you enjoyed the party. A handwritten thank-you note is always appreciated. I also love using the Red Stamp app to send a fun text message to say "Thank you for having me!”
Follow these tips you're sure to be on the guest list for years to come!