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I absolutely love checking the mail each day (I really do), but this time of year is the BEST. That's when Christmas cards fill the mailbox along with invitations to celebrate the season. Now that the parties are starting to fill our calendars, it's a good time to brush up on how to be a good guest. I've hosted events at my home for anywhere from 3 to 100 people... am I'm here to offer my advice on how to be the ultimate party guest from a host's perspective.
This is the most obvious one on the list, but I couldn't leave it out. Do your best to respond early and stick with that response. As a host, it's much more fun to hear from people who eagerly accept right when the invitation arrives than to get, "oh by the way I'll be there tomorrow" or "ya, we're not going to make it" at the last minute. Sure, things can always come up, but a gracious guest enthusiastically responds at the first opportunity.
When you show up, be excited to be there. Pretend if you have to... or pound an espresso on the way over if you're tired. Ha! As a host, it's always nice to have guests who are eager to participate in whatever is planned. A dumb party game? Jump in and have fun with it. Singing cheesy Christmas carols? Belt them out as loud as you can. A girls' party with a craft and you're not the most crafty? Do your best and just enjoy it. Hosts who put thought into activities love guests who are excited to participate. So, don't be too cool or too awkward to be a part of the fun.
Bring a Hostess Gift
Now, I never expect a guest to bring me anything. However, I love to bring hostess gifts wherever I go. Who doesn't love a little treat? Especially after doing all the work to throw a party. My hostess gifts are always inexpensive, but wrapped and presented in a festive way. Here are some ideas from my absolute favorite place to shop for these, Swoozies. These are all under $20... most are under $10.
Be sure to add a gift tag or card so that the host knows who it's from. Hostess gifts are often piled on a side table and left until the end of the night. Your host will want to know who was so thoughtful.
Timing is Everything
Be on time. It's okay to be fashionably late, but don't push it... and for the love of tinsel don't be early! At the end of the party, if pretty much everyone has departed, you should take the cue and make your exit too. Don't linger too long.
Eat the Food
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!