Holiday Party Etiquettes in the Digital Age

As you are headed out to party with your family, friends or colleagues this holiday season, be an informed not a mediocre guest. Yes, as an adult, there are a few rules that you should know if you don’t already. Make sure you are not just a good friend, but an amazing guest to ensure that your host invites you back next season! 

Respond to Invitations on Time

Most people send digital invitations through email, Evite, facebook events, or paperless post type website. Ensure these are not getting to your junkbox and RSVP right away! As a general rule of thumb, you should reply to an invitation within a day or two. Even if you are not sure if you will be able to make it, thank your host and let them know why you may or may not be able to attend. If it’s a definite no, tell them why. Notify them as soon as your plans finalize, but please do not wait till the day before the party! There is nothing worse for a host to find out to buy more food and drink at the last minute.

One of my holiday party spreads

Who Do You Want to Bring Along?

If you have a significant other, it will likely be them. Some invitations are extended to kids and entire families, others are restricted to couples or maybe just a +1. When picking a friend to bring along, select someone who you think the host would enjoy meeting. Perhaps they have common interest and would benefit from the connection.

When you RSVP, let your host know not only how many people you will be bringing with you, but their names and relationship. If you are bringing someone they haven’t met before, specify what’s cool about them.

Read the Invitation Carefully

This is a no brainer but I see it happening all the time! People don’t read the entire invitation and keep sending emails or text with redundant questions – What time does it start? What should I bring? What’s the address?  

Be sure to check notes the host may have already have about food or drinks to bring, where to park, etc. Please don’t annoy your hosts as they may be busy prepping and cleaning up before your arrival!

Arrive on Time 

Unless it’s a rolling party, arrive at your destination on time, especially if it’s a sit down event. You definitely don’t want to barge in during special announcements or in the middle of dinner. If you have other commitments and will be late, notify your host a day before. Don’t be calling during the party as they may be busy talking to other guests.

Bring a Hostess Gift 

In my invitations, I generally ask guests to make a donation to Go Eat Give instead of bringing cards or gifts. (Evite has a nice feature that allows you to pick a charity and have a direct link to make donations). Still, I do appreciate if you bring a nice bottle of wine for the bar (something that you yourself enjoy drinking or know that your host would). I don’t care for food gifts or prepared foods with a short expiration date, because I usually have leftovers and would end up with more. A nice bottle of olive oil, a rare spice or gourmet chocolates are always appreciated though. 

My friends who always help me clean up – Ana, Jalal and Paige

Offer to Clean Up

If you are one of the last people to leave, help your host pick up glasses and plates off the table, put the food in the kitchen and offer to clean the dishes. They are probably tired from preparing and hosting, so a few helping hands would be appreciated. Plus, as a group you can get it done faster and share some memories from the party.

Say Goodbye Before You Leave 

I have seen this happen as well and it is rather rude when guests come, eat, drink, enjoy themselves and leave without a thank-you or a goodbye. Even if it becomes crazy crowded, do locate your host and say a quick greeting. 

Send a Thank You Message 

I love receiving messages from attendees about how they enjoyed a particular dish I cooked, the company, or catching up after a long time. Send a quick text or email the day after, a picture if you happen to take one and thank them again for their hospitality.

Kazumi & Mas pose for the best pictures

Reciprocate the Invitation 

After 20+ years of living in the US, I am surprised to see how few people reciprocate home hospitality in our society. Sure not everyone is into throwing lavish parties, but if someone has invited you say, a couple of times, it’s time to pay back. Note – pot luck parties and Dutch dinners don’t count as reciprocation.

If you are not a good cook, take your host out for a meal or oder in. A good friend of mine who doesn’t have a big space buys food and wine and brings it over to my place for a special treat. Another friend cooks my favorite Persian dish and comes over to my house. You may even send your host a gift card to a restaurant in their neighborhood!

I hope you will create wonderful memories with good food and friends this holiday season. But most of all, you will take a moment to reflect on what went on behind the scenes – who shopped for groceries, cooked the delicious meal, cleaned the space, decorated the table, took the time to put it all together – and be appreciative for having being included. 

Metropolitan cooking and entertainment show

Here are some highlights from the Metropolitan cooking and entertainment show at the Cobb Galleria in Atlanta this past weekend. It was a great event with hundreds of exhibitors, demonstrations and Food Network stars like Giada, Paula and the Neely’s. Entry was $25 and special events were extra.

It spanned both days of the weekend and attracted visitors from all over the Southeast.

Beef was the main sponsor of the event. There were beef recipes, tastings, giveaways and products for purchase.

Vendors from all over the US sold everything from home made jams, jellies, dips, breads, cupcakes to infused olive oils and vinegars. One of my personal favorites is Leonardo e Roberto’s. They have the best flavored vinegars and olive oils that last a long time and dress up any salads, seasonings and more. Delicious!

 Tasting was a big part of the event since you don’t want to buy something before tasting it first! There was a heavy emphasis on desserts this year, but you also found a few savory items such as flavored peanuts, chips and dips.

Seriously? Paula Deen is now selling her veggies in bags!

I also enjoy the concept of infused salts. They work really well for seasoning meats and dressing cocktails. This year there were a few booth selling salts from around the world including Salt of 7 Seas. A unique item I discovered was a salt plate to cook on.  

Finally, the demonstrations were perhaps the best value for the show. You could learn from experts all day on entertaining ideas, tea tasting, ice cream sundaes, theme parties, knife skills and much more. These classes were free and went on all day long.

Pizza with Pizzazz

Instead of going out with friends for dinner, this Saturday night, I decided to host a pizza party at home. It wasn’t your typical order delivery and drink beer, rather a more mature and sophisticated pizza party for refined adults.

I bought fresh ingredients including pizza dough and toppings to make two different kinds of pizzas. The guests got a hands-on lesson in pizza making and were in the kitchen making pizza. We talked and cooking over a bottle of Chianti, making the evening more enjoyable and relaxed.

The first one we made was an eggplant goat cheese and pesto pizza. First, we sliced 1 medium eggplant into ¼ inch slices and lightly fried them in olive oil, until brown on both sides. Meanwhile, we finely chopped 3 cloves of garlic and rolled out our pizza dough onto a pizza stone. We first coated the sides of the pizza dough with olive oil, and then sprinkled the chopped garlic on top. The fried eggplant slices were arranged in a circle so that the entire surface was covered. This went in a 375F oven for 15 minutes. While we waited, we made a quick pesto using Knorr pesto sauce mix. Just followed the directions on the package. We then sprinkled the sauce over the pizza and added about 3 oz crumbled goat cheese. Now it was time to let it bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the crust was golden brown.

The second pizza was relatively simple as you didn’t need to cook the toppings. We used multi-grain dough to make the base. This time we used Knorr’s four cheese sauce mix and spread it evenly on the rolled out dough. We first baked the pizza throughout for 30-40 minutes until golden brown on the edges. For the toppings, we sprinkles ½ cups finely chopped purple onions, 2 tablespoon capers and 6 oz sliced smoked salmon. (You could even add fresh arugula leaves to it if you like.) This was our smoked salmon pizza.

Both pizzas were significantly different from each other and what you traditionally eat at pizzerias, but were delicious! The guests enjoyed it, learned something new and had a memorable dinner experience. It’s another example of how you can makeover a regular family meal into something with more pizzazz.