Don't Ruin the Party: 11 Things Guests With Good Social Skills Never Do

by Joe Epstein on 26 June 2014 0 comments

Most parties don't require you to sign a contract at the front door.

But all the same: by showing up, you've committed to a contract, albeit a non-verbal one. Your hosts agree to do everything reasonable to ensure your good time, and, basically, you agree to do everything reasonable to not make it blow up in their faces. (See also: 18 Things People With Good Social Skills Never Do)

So take a look at this list and make sure you're not unintentionally committing any party fouls. Your hosts (and your social calendar) will thank you for it.

1. Never Be Unnecessarily Non-Committal About an RSVP

Sad but true: You can screw things up before the party even begins! Specifically, by telling your host "no thanks" and then showing up, telling your host "yes please!" and then skipping, telling your host "maybe" for no good reason, and/or holding off on saying anything at all (whether to see who else RSVPs or some other reason). Simply put: Your host is sending you an invite because they want you there, but also because they need to know how many people are coming. If you have a potential conflict and really aren't sure, or something comes up last minute, fine. Otherwise, treat your RSVP like you would a professional interaction: be prompt and accurate.

2. Never Demand Special Food, Drink, or Treatment

Some hosts will ask if you have special dietary needs or desires. And that is wonderful. But if they don't, the burden is on you to eat what you can on the night of the party, not on them to provide you with your favorite finger-food. Asking before the party can cause stress, and asking during the party isn't going to accomplish anything. Remember, your job as a guest is to be low maintenance!

3. Never Show Up Empty-Handed

You aren't in college anymore. (…and if you are, try bringing a gift to the party for once — everyone will be amazed and impressed!). Bring a gift, and make sure it's not one that you intend consume wholly by yourself. (In other words, don't bring your favorite bottle of wine, then hoard it in the corner).

4. Never Fail to Greet and Thank the Host

They're not always going to be able to greet you out the door, so seek them out! Interrupting them briefly to say "hi" is fine — they'll appreciate you letting them know you're there.

5. Never Monopolize the Host's Time

Yes, interrupting to say hi is fine, but interrupting repeatedly to update your host on your life, your kid's life, your cat's life… not so much. Respect that your host is "on duty" and has to spread their attention around. If you don't think you're getting enough one-on-one time, well… Schedule some one-on-one time! This is party time.

6. Never Wander Off-Limits

However fascinating it may be to explore roped-off rooms, wings, and secret lairs, these places are off-limits for a reason. And no, you don't need to know that reason, beyond "because that's what your hosts have asked of you." As for what's in-bounds, here's a rule of thumb: If you find yourself alone and you're looking at things other than your own phone (i.e. photos on the wall), you're probably not where you should be.

7. Never Fight With Another Guest

Unless you're a Real Housewife, part of your social contract involves keeping the peace. All but the most dire offenses should be ignored, and all but the most awful people should be given the benefit of the doubt. Arguing at the party isn't standing up for yourself, it's insulting the host by disrespecting the work they've put into ensuring a good time.

8. Never Complain About the Food

Unless you brought it, you're going to offend the host or whoever was on snack duty. Even if you're good friends with the host, there's no reason to make them ill at ease about their catering — if you don't like it, don't eat it!

9. In Fact, Never Complain About Anything

While you're busy not-complaining about the food, try to use the same approach to anything and everything related to the party. Unless there's something that's clearly affecting everybody, and is an easy fix (e.g., turning the air conditioning down), then complaints accomplish nothing but making your host feel bad.

10. Never Forget to Have Fun!

Ultimately, this is why you're here. Supporting your host's efforts is important, but ultimately those efforts are geared toward facilitating your fun, so take advantage!

11. …And Failing That, Never Look Like You're Not Having Fun

No one can force you to have a good time. But if you agreed to show up, it's on you to force yourself to at least put on a happy face. Pouts and sighs and eye rolls don't go unnoticed by hosts. Even if they don't have the time to ask you "what's wrong," these signs will certainly concern them, and that's the last thing you want.

Of course, you could always just refer back to #10 and enjoy yourself.

Any other tips for good party-going etiquette? Let us know.

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