If you’ve been following our etiquette series, you’ve received tips concerning basic table manners as well as information regarding table settings, buffet fundamentals, proper titles, and being a gracious guest. Today we continue the series with another special holiday installment from our publisher Phyllis Hoffman DePiano.
When I posted a series of etiquette tips for being the perfect guest last month, I was so impressed to see your responses. We all know that good manners are essential at any time of year. The busy holiday season—with all of its parties and occasions for entertaining—means we have more reason than usual to be on our best behavior.
Thanks to your thoughtful comments, I have a few more etiquette tips that will ensure you and your loved ones are acting with decorum.
Remember, good etiquette isn’t so much about following rules as it is about putting those around you at ease. Here are a few more thoughts—some of them quite entertaining—from you on how to make your holiday festivities as enjoyable as possible:
Faye observed one fellow guest with a rather unappetizing purse accessory:
“If you are a guest, for goodness’s sake, don’t take a Ziploc bag in your purse to take home the host’s leftovers! (Yes, I actually saw this!!)”
And Barbara had several useful pointers:
“Always use a coaster when placing a drink on furniture. Seems obvious, but yet we always wind up with water spotting on our maple side tables after a party. I also dislike when people discuss their unpleasant medical conditions in detail at the dinner table. Very unappetizing!”
Barbara, I couldn’t agree more. Discussing medical conditions is best left between you and your doctor. It’s certainly not appropriate for the dinner table.
Louise offered helpful insights for how to prepare for a party, pointing out that a simple phone call can clear up a lot of confusion:
“Customs certainly vary from place to place. Where I live some parties held indoors will require all guests to remove their shoes at the door. Some parties, if held outside, will require guests to bring their own chair. And if the invitation says ‘bring a plate’ it definitely does not mean an empty plate to eat from. A friendly phone call to check the arrangements is always a good idea these days when so many people seem to have allergies or special needs.”
When in doubt, don’t be afraid to simply ask the hostess ahead of time!
Thank you, Mary, for reminding us that “the perfect guest doesn’t sit and wait to be entertained. Guests should mingle with others and engage themselves in conversation.”
No need to be a wallflower. You friend has invited you with the belief that you will enjoy the other guests. Trust her and don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation.
I especially appreciated Carmel’s thoughts on introducing a bit of humor and kindness to the festivities:
“From years of entertaining our seniors at our retirement community in San Diego, dinner parties ranged from 12 to 160, depending on the occasion and holiday. I always tried to introduce a little humor in good taste and compliment everyone in some way or another throughout the evening. Everyone is special or they would not be invited, and humor can lighten up anyone’s life. Never talk negative.”
And as Lady Beatryce reminded us, “The perfect guest leaves politics at home.”
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I only wish I could have you all to my house to see all of these perfect guests in action.
Now that we’ve discussed holiday etiquette for being the perfect guest, I’m curious. What pointers do you have for being a gracious hostess?