“The good guest is almost invisible, enjoying him or herself, community with fellow guests, and, most of all, enjoying the generous hospitality of the hosts.” ~ Emily Post I love a good party — seriously, you can ask anyone who knows me. Having friends in my home brings me great joy and I try to host several get-togethers throughout each year. Some are only for adults, but most include children. My children feel such a sense of pride in having their contemporaries over, and, with all honesty, it’s a good way to get them to clean their rooms! I am not a formal entertainer by any stretch of the imagination. Rather, I prefer to host informal events in which all feel comfortable and welcome. No matter what type of gathering you find yourself invited too, the rules of etiquette remain the same. Be Gracious Being invited into someone’s home or event is an honor and should be treated as such. If an RSVP is requested, provide one in a timely manner so the hosts can make appropriate plans. A positive response is your commitment to attend and all efforts to honor that commitment should be made. It is not required that you bring the hostess a gift, but is sure to be a welcome overture. Just be sure that the gift is something that can be opened and put to use at a later date and refrain from bringing an item with the expectation that it be used during the party. Verbally thank your host for including you before you leave. To really set yourself apart and show your thanks, send them a handwritten note a day or two after the event. Be Polite I always recommend that all employ their good manners. When you are another person’s guests, being polite will help the evening go smoothly for all involved. Aim to engage other guests, and not monopolize the host and/or hostesses’ time. It is a time to socialize, strengthen current relationship and forge new ones. Refrain from partaking in controversial or off-color topics. Every attempt should be made to involve others in conversations in lieu of one or two people dominating it. Be Respectful Just because you are the guest does not mean that you are to be waited on hand and foot. Take plates to the sink and throw garbage away when necessary. Don’t wander it places with closed doors or that may be private areas — especially when invited into another person’s home. Wipe your feet upon entering and show care for all furniture and belongings. When the party is winding down, begin preparing to leave along with the other guests. If you break something or spill any drink or food, bring it to the attention of the host immediately with sincere apologies. Be Aware Most importantly, follow the lead of the host and/or hostess, especially when you are invited to their home. Do they remove their shoes? Then you should remove your shoes as well. If they don’t smoke, then you should not smoke in or near their home. If their demeanor is more subdued, than let that set the tone for the gathering and your conduct. Be in tune to their subtle signals and aim for their comfort. Finally, don’t overstay your welcome. A rule of thumb is to leave them wanting a little more. In this day and age of everyone being hurried and rushed, I encourage you to slow down and spend time with the people you care about. It does not take too much effort to host them at your home, and I don’t think there is a greater overture of friendship.
Shelley Davis Mielock
Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.