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.