Back in the Mad Men era cocktail or dinner parties were the norm. When my grandparent's got married they received a punch bowl, serving dishes and bar ware and they hosted parties. In fact I've inherited and used quite a few of those pieces when I host a party.
I am not Emily Post, but as a host and as a guest over the years I've picked up some tips on how to be a good guest. And yes, that is a thing.
- Bring something. If you are coming for dinner, cocktails or staying the weekend at someone's house please make sure you bring a little something. Generally a bottle of wine is totally acceptable. I usually let the time of year dictate my wine choice. If it's winter I'll buy a red and in spring or summer I'll pick up a rose or something white. If it is a backyard barbecue then I am definitely bringing beer. It's ok to let your budget dictate your choices. I was pretty intimidated by some friends who were, well, wine snobs, but I was able to pick up a decent red for about $12. That's all I could afford and that is ok. A $7 wine can be perfectly fine and close friends know that I probably will bring a bottle of 2 buck chuck from Trader Joe's. The only time this does not hold true is if your hosts do not drink, then pick up a bouquet of flowers. I tend to disagree with bringing a host/hostess gift that is an object because you may bring something they don't need.
- Offer to help. Even if you don't know how to cook you can help set the table, or stir the pot or bring things to the table when they are cooked. I love to cook and I love to have people over but that last mad rush of trying to get everything to the table while it is still hot requires more hands then I have!
- Don't go on a political rant, monopolize the conversation or get so engrossed in speaking with the guest next to you that people start to think maybe you should get a room (this has actually happened to me before).
- Offer to take off your shoes. Some households make it very clear that they are a no shoes house. Some people do not agree with this but it is their home and their rules. I usually don't ask people to take off their shoes, but if it is raining or snowing out then you can be sure I'm making people take off their shoes.
Things are a little different when you hosting an event for really close friends. I reached a point where I realized I stopped entertaining because it cost too much and took up too much time. I love to cook and I love to entertain, but I started reaching out to people and asking if they could bring something.
My goal is to have people feel comfortable and happy at my house. I will admit though that I've been happy to see some people fall off, or get cut, from the guest list because they were just not good guests.
Do you have any tips on how to be a guest? Next week I'll do a series on how to be a good host since it cuts both ways!