11 Dos and Don'ts of Being an Awesome Holiday Party Guest
Food writer, personal chef, and consummate hostess Katie Sweeney (who pens the entertaining blog Six Twists) shares her expert advice on attending a holiday party.
As a huge fan of both the holidays and parties in general, you can imagine my excitement when the holiday party invitations start rolling in. Each time I receive a Paperless Post to a tree-trimming or seasonal happy hour, "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" plays in my head. I just love me a good holiday party! It's only mid-December and I've already been to six holiday parties (two of which I hosted!), but I'm gearing up to be an amazing holiday party guest at plenty of events to come over the next couple of weeks. Wondering how you can do the same? Read on for the dos and dont's of being a spectacular holiday party guest.
If your hostess asks you to wear sparkly cocktail attire, an ugly sweater, or an elf outfit, oblige her. She's probably gone all out to match the food, décor, and drinks to her spirited seasonal theme, so get over yourself and dress the part!
Whether the party is a coursed sit-down feast of the seven fishes to celebrate Christmas Eve or a laid-back New Year’s Day black-eyed pea buffet, take the time to RSVP. We understand that you’re crazy busy buying gifts and tying up loose end-of-the-year ends, but that’s not an excuse not to RSVP. It takes two seconds to click yes on an evite, so help your host out and let he or she know you'll be there so they can order the correct amount of oysters on the half shell.
Especially if it’s a party where you may not know a lot of people. A glass of pink Champagne or a chilly cranberry cocktail will loosen you up and get the conversation flowing. Say cheers to the group of people standing near you, then ask them how they know the host. Before you know it, you'll be mingling like a pro! Other good conversation starters include the following questions: What are you doing for New Year's Eve? What's your favorite type of Christmas cookie? What's the craziest thing that's ever happened to you while traveling during the holidays?
They don’t call it "the season of giving" for nothing. Express your gratitude toward the holiday party hostess by bringing a bottle of wine, edible gift, coffee table book, or potted plant.
Still pissed at that coworker for accidentally telling your boss you were wine-tasting instead of working from home last Labor Day? Let it go! There’s no better time than the holidays to forgive and forget. Smile, say hello, and move on. We understand that attending back-to-back family events during November and December can be awkward, tense, and stressful, but avoid making a scene with the uncle who rubs you the wrong way. Be polite, then steer clear of him. Instead, seek out the family members you love and converse with them! When all else fails, remember the age-old adage that you were taught as child: If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. Then head straight to the bar for another round of drinks.
Unless the invite specifies, "the more the merrier," don't show up with an unexpected trio of friends. Yes, lots of people are coming and going during the holidays, but if your best bud from college randomly happens to be in town the night you're supposed to attend an ornament exchange, call or text your hostess and explain the situation. Ask if the friend can come and when the host says yes, bring a nice bottle of bubbles to show your appreciation. Press it into her hands when you arrive and whisper, "Thanks for letting me bring my friend at the last minute! Save this for later. Do not drink it tonight."
Many holiday events have a charity aspect to them that involve bringing canned goods or wrapped toys or donating money. Do your part and bring a can of black beans, a wrapped Elsa doll, or donate as much cash as you can possibly afford. Every dollar helps.
When your friends drunkenly gather round the fire and belt "All I Want for Christmas Is You" at the top of their lungs, don’t roll your eyes: Sing along. Same goes for any other jubilant activity like making snow angels, decorating gingerbread cookies, or drinking eggnog. These holiday happenings have stood the test of time for a reason—they are fabulous fun!—so participate. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy yourself!
Say Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Felices Fiestas or whatever jolly greeting comes to mind when you leave the party. It’s a great way to connect with that cute guy in the Santa hat who was eyeing you, but never said hello.
Sure, the invite said "open house," but that doesn’t mean your friend's house is open forever and you can move in. If the music has stopped and the punch bowl hasn’t been refilled, it’s time to grab your coats and say your good nights.
Did you adore the five-course meal, open bar, valet parking, band, photo booth, and potted poinsettia parting gift? Let the host know in a short, but heartfelt, thank-you note, email, or text.
Find more of Katie's expert entertaining and cooking advice at Six Twists.
What are your tips for holiday party-going? Tell us in the comments below.
Opening photo by Slim Aarons