I’m going to tell you a true story. A story that will hopefully show you what great dinner party guests do and do not do.
My friend was going to go meet her boyfriend’s family for dinner at their upscale house for the first time. Midway through dinner she had to go to the bathroom, and trying to be discreet and well mannered, asked for the powder room. Her boyfriend’s mother directed her down the hall and she scurried away.
Now, powder rooms originally were small rooms with a mirror for women to powder their noses. And this particular house, apparently still lived in the early 19th century.
Upon arrival in said powder room, my friend was too embarrassed to admit she needed an actual toilet so she did the only rational thing, she climbed up on the sink. Because that makes perfect sense. And it would have all worked out if she had managed to do her business in the sink. But no. While she was perched on her make shift throne, the sink came off the wall and she fell backwards hitting her head, knocking her unconscious. She came to a minute or so later to see the whole family staring down at her, her pants around her ankles (sink on the floor) and the family dog dead underneath her (it apparently followed her into the bathroom).
Needless to say they broke up. And you know, they might not have, if she had known how to be a good guest at a dinner party. Number one rule of being a good guest, don’t go to the bathroom in your hosts sink. Didn’t know I needed to share that one, but just in case you had the great idea of going to the bathroom in your hosts sink, don’t do that.
In case you’ve already mastered the first, here are five more helpful hints on how to be a good dinner party guest, most of which I have learned from my dinner party guests.
Great Dinner Party Guests Do These 5 Things
- Don’t eat the point of the cheese. If you’re eating the point of the cheese that means someone else is eating the back rind. Always slice the cheese in the direction of the wedge. So, if it’s a wedge of soft cheese, slice off the side. Here’s a cool article with lots of cheese slicing charts.
- Don’t show up empty handed. Great dinner party guests bring something with. You can bring a bottle of wine. If it’s a dry party, bring flowers or a plant. It communicates to your host that you appreciate all the effort they put forth and also ensures you are not a leech on the party.
- Show up on time. Great dinner party guest take into consideration the formality of the event and show up accordingly. If there is dinner, you can arrive within 15 minutes of it starting, but no later. When you show up late you communicate a number of things: One) your schedule is more important than your hosts, Two) your host has to delay dinner on your account. Or, it interrupts the flow of events, while she or he leaves the guests they are currently entertaining and see to your needs. And three) showing up late deprives someone else of your good company! Your host has given a lot of thought to the guest list. You were invited because of what you have to offer for the evening. If you agreed to go to the dinner party, at least show up on time.
- Don’t start doing the dishes. Great dinner party guests enjoy themselves. You are probably well intentioned and just want to help, but by doing the dishes the host will feel obligated to leave her/his current guests to come help. It breaks the flow of the evening and may make other guests feel like they need to go home. Honestly, this is my least favorite rule because I loathe dishes. But, when someone starts doing the dishes it means the end of the evening, and more than anything I want my guests to leave feeling satiated physically and emotionally. No one leaves satiated when they have to do the dishes.
- Thank your host twice. When you leave, thank your host for hosting the party. Thank them again the next day with a text or a phone call. This makes your host feel good for hosting the party If the party was given in your honor you should follow up with a hand written card and potentially a small gift (i.e. if it’s a bridal shower or something akin to that). I love hearing the next day that my party was a success. I LOVE it when people WANT to come to my party. What can I say, I have an ego!:)
Have something to add? What do you do to be a great dinner party guest?