You know the drill: Starting in mid-November through the beginning of January, party and get-together season is in full swing. From small dinner parties and family get-togethers to large corporate events, a lot of invitations go out during holiday season.
Of course it’s all about having fun, socializing and connecting with people you may not have seen in a while. However, you also need to make sure that you are conducting yourself in a manner that will get you invited back next year! Here are a few tips on holiday party etiquette.
Respond to the R.S.V.P.
I can tell you from personal experience that it is very annoying when people don’t respond when a response is requested. Usually responses are not made when:
- It is forgotten. Responses are put on the back-burner due to busy schedules. It is put off a day. A day becomes a week, and week a month and before we know if the event has arrived and the response is forgotten.
- A response is thought of as not necessary.
My suggestion for number one is: As soon as you know that you’re going or not going, respond. Get into the habit of NOT putting it off. You should respond either way: Yes or no, you’re going or you’re not going.
Next, why is a response necessary? The host of the party needs to account for amount of food, drink and space for the occasion. It is also nice to know who can be expected. If a response is requested, you should always consider that a response is necessary.
You also want to make sure that you respond on-time. A last-minute response doesn’t do anybody any good; responding appropriately shows respect for the person throwing the event.
Determine Who Should Attend
Make sure that you know who should be going to the event, i.e. are children allowed or is it a function for just adults. Believe it or not, there are events, outings and get-togethers that can be adults only. It’s OK. So find out ahead of time if kids are invited. If kids are invited, that’s great! Make sure that when you R.S.V.P. you include your children in the response.
If kids are not invited, that’s OK too. Maybe mom and dad need a night out sans kids. Find an appropriate sitter, go out and have some fun. Just adults.
Dress For the Occasion
Don’t show up in jeans and t-shirt if it is a semi-formal event. Don’t show up in your Sunday best if it is an ugly sweater party. If you are not sure what to wear and the invite does not specify, ask when you R.S.V.P.
If there is no specific dress recommendation I advise to still not wear jeans and a t-shirt. Throw on a polo shirt or sweater. I always think that it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed.
Find Out If You Should Bring Anything
When you R.S.V.P. it never hurts to ask if you need to bring anything. Is it a dinner party? Ask if you should be a side-dish or desert. Is it an informal get-together? Ask if you should bring a snack food item or beverages.
If it doesn’t say anything on the invitation about bringing something, then you probably don’t need to. However asking it is the courteous thing to do.
Arrive On Time
Arrive on time, but don’t show up too early. If the host is anything like my wife and me, we are still cleaning, setting up and making last-minute preparations just before start time. If you show up 10 or 15 minutes early, that is probably fine. But any more that 15 minutes early, and you may catch the host off guard.
If you do arrive too early and set-up is still in progress, make yourself useful and find out if there is anything you can do to help.
Skip the Alcohol
You can have fun at a party without drinking alcohol. In fact I submit to you that you can probably have MORE fun without it. Keeping your wits about you and being able to focus on conversations will make a party more enjoyable. You will also have much less of a chance of doing or saying something you might regret.
As a host, nothing is worse than having a drunk to deal with. Do everyone, including yourself, a favor and skip the punch bowl.
Leave On Time
Even if the party doesn’t have a set end time, you can tell when it is starting to wind down. I can guarantee you that your host is tired and worn out. As the night comes to a close he or she is probably looking forward to everyone clearing out.
Don’t be the guy that they are waiting on to leave. When you notice that things are starting to slow down, go over to the host, thank them for inviting you and say your good-byes.
Have fun this holiday season!
I write about the rather unexpected journey of fatherhood, please join me!