The holidays are a time of joy and lots of social mingling. However, it can also be a stressful time. Invited to a dinner party? Do you bring a dish or a bottle? Do you carry a hostess gift, and how much money should you spend on it? How do you adequately thank a host? If you want to be invited back to a holiday dinner party, then please steer clear of the following mistakes:
Not Confirming Your Attendance
If you are invited to a dinner party make sure to confirm your attendance with the host promptly; it is just common courtesy. Do NOT quiz the host as to who has been invited to the gathering, doing so is outright rude because it is their affair and they can invite anyone of their choosing.
Failing to Arrive on Time
You probably won’t be given a tongue-lashing by your host for being fashionably late by perhaps 15 minutes or so after a dinner party’s start time. However, what is not acceptable is CP time which is an hour or more late; this is outright rude! If you’re going to be late to a dinner party have the common courtesy to notify the host so they can proceed with their plans.
Bringing Uninvited Guests
Dinner parties, if done well, involve much planning like food portion guesstimation per guest. If you bring an uninvited plus one, you will upset the host’s balance – even worse the extra mouth to feed may create a food shortage for the invited guests. Ask in advance if you can bring another person to a dinner party.
To Gift or Not to Gift
For friends who are dining together, it is a nice gesture to come with a small gift like a bottle of wine, flowers, a candle or even a specialty food item like nuts. If the dinner is formal, gifts are not a necessity especially if you barely know the host.
If you know that your host will serve the polar opposite of what you drink, is it snobby to show up with something else to share instead? The answer is “No!” Just be tactful! It’s always welcome to bring a bottle of wine or two to a party and simply say, “Why don’t we open this now? I’m dying to try it.” I am guilty of asking a host to open a bottle that I have brought to their gathering because I am particular about my liquors and so far, no one has taken offense.
Making a Pest of Yourself in Someone Else’s Kitchen
No matter how solid your culinary skills are, at a host’s home, avoid taking over meal preparation under the guise of “helping.” Even if you think the mac ‘n cheese needs additional baking, keep in mind, the affair is not your party. You just might believe you’re improving the taste of your host’s meal with your suggestions, but you’re actually being insulting. Allow the host to decide how to prepare their planned meal and keep your opinions to yourself.
Expecting the Host to Cater to You
Even if your host knows that you have special dietary restrictions, it is not their responsibility to cater to you. If there is cheese in the salad and you are lactose intolerant, or you don’t indulge in red meat – don’t get irritated. You are a guest, and it is your responsibility to appreciate their hospitality and effort. Nibble on the few things you can eat. Remember, you can always have a second meal when you get home.
Allowing the Host’s Glass to Sit Empty
It is the host’s job to make sure no one’s glass is empty. As a guest, it is an extra special gesture if you offer to fill the host’s glass. This simple deed goes above and beyond making the host feel appreciated and valued.
Using Your Phone
When you are in someone’s home socializing it is more important to give your utmost attention to those around you than to continuously check your texts. You are a dinner party guest, so silence your phone and tuck it away while at the affair. If you are compelled to use your phone while others are eating, excuse yourself from the table.
Planning food portions for a dinner party is a science. It’s an honest mistake if your host guesses incorrectly with regards to certain dishes. If you notice a dish getting low before it gets to you, take only a small serving and wait to see if there is anything left of it towards the end of the meal. Don’t take seconds of a dish, unless you’re sure the rest of the guests have at least helped themselves to a first.
Please don’t ask the host if there is any more food in the kitchen! Surely, the host has noticed the food shortage and is already embarrassed. Drawing attention to the lack of food will only make the host feel more uncomfortable.
Not Helping to Clean Up
After the meal, offer to help the host clear the table, load the dishwasher, scrub pans, or dry dishes, these acts of lending a hand are perfectly appropriate. Moreover, even control freaks can often loosen up to accept your offer to help once the meal is over.
It is considered rude to just sit at the table and continue chatting while the host is acting like your waitstaff! If your host, however, does not want any assistance with clean up, respect their wishes.
Not Thanking Your Host
Probably the rudest mistake any dinner guest can make is not thanking the host before leaving their home. Inviting people, preparing dinner, and cleaning up before and after are enormous tasks. Make sure the host feels appreciated and ends the night feeling like their affair was a total success. Additionally, a classy gesture on your part would be to send your host a handwritten note raving about their great hospitality.
Overstaying Your Welcome
Never be that dinner guest who stays an hour after everyone has left. If you are a close friend of the host and decide to hang around the dinner party is over at least help with the cleanup, so that the host can go to bed at a decent time.