Over the years, I’ve shared a ton of strategies for hosting holiday parties; but the hardest part of hosting any event is that which you can’t control—particularly, the people you invite. This year, I’m turning the tables on party planners and suggesting instead my top five tips for being a great dinner guest:
- Offer assistance. You should always ask if you can help with preparations. If asked to bring food, inquire if there is a specific dish to compliment a carefully planned menu. And if your host declines help preparing food, don’t bring food (see #4, below).
- Mention allergies. Speak up as soon as you’re invited, not when you arrive, or, worse yet, when dinner is served. A good host will try to accommodate you, but that’s much easier to do ahead of time.
- Don’t be late. But definitely don’t be early! For the host a party starts as soon as the first person arrives, even if they aren’t quite ready. And at the slightest hint your host is growing tired, pack up and head out (after offering to help clean up, of course).
- Bring a gift. Your host is gifting you with a party, so return their kindness with a (budget-friendly) bottle of wine, box of candy or floral arrangement.
- Dress to impress. Dressing up sends a message to your host that you find their party (and them) to be special.
Rachael Perron is the culinary & brand director for Kowalski’s Markets, where she specializes in product development and selection, culinary education and communications.