Monday, November 29, 2010

Manners Mondays installment #2: Party Etiquette

In the spirit of weddings and holidays, no doubt everyone out there will receive at least one invite to a holiday party and or wedding in the coming weeks. But paper goods are no longer as treasured as they used to be. It's almost 2011, I know. People are being eco-friendly and high-tech with virtual and digital invitations these days, and they seem to be getting more and more sophisticated by the hour. BUT. Yes, I said it. BUT... just because the invitation format has changed, that does not mean invitation and party attendance etiquette should or needs to change as well. Here are some quick rules of thumb:

If you are sending invitations:
- Balance the timing. For a more formal party, particularly one where a headcount needs to be given or a specific amount of food needs to be purchased, give guests extra time to plan ahead and time for yourself to remind them accordingly. However, too much advanced notice and your guests may not feel the need to pay attention. 2-3 weeks for a more casual affair seems to be sufficient, but perhaps an additional week if you need strict numbers!
- Be clear about who is invited - your friends will not be offended. If you plan to have an adults only kind of party, say so. You may risk some friends not being able to make, but lots of parents may appreciate the no-kids atmosphere and use it as an opportunity to decompress! Accordingly, if you prefer to have a more intimate affair, say a dinner party, make sure guests know how many people they are allowed to bring.
- Don't be afraid to ask your guests to contribute. You may be the host, but that doesn't necessarily mean you need to bleed your wallet dry to have a rockin' time. If you're hosting, especially at your home, ask guests to bring beverages, desserts, sides, snacks, etc. Chances are, people will do that anyway, but providing some direction is very helpful so you don't end up with one six-pack and 6 fruitcakes!
- Beware the theme party! Theme parties are fun, but if you want your party to be more inclusive, suggest multiple ways guests can participate, particularly if it's a costumed theme party. Dressing up, particularly if your guests are traveling some distance (and using public transit), may not always be a desirable option.
- An obvious one: make sure the date, time & location is very clear. Also, provide your phone number and/or your venue's phone number in the event your guests need directions, are running late, etc.
- Thank your guests for coming. In person, by email, whatever works. If you took photos, you can use this as an excuse to share them!

If you are guest who has received an invitation:
- Respect the RSVP. Evite, email, by phone or by post, if you are expected to respond to the invitation, please do so. This is the major complaint I get from so many of my friends. An email invitation should be taken as seriously as a paper one. If your host took the time to create and distribute the invitation and plan the event, you should respect that and reply in kind. It will take you no time at all, and save your host from that awkward moment when all the food has run out and you show up with five friends.
- Respect your host's wishes, and don't hesitate to call and ask questions if something isn't clear.
- If you are being invited to someone's home, respect their space. Don't get out of control drunk, break dishes and spill drinks everywhere. Of course, accidents happen, but you can prevent them by acting accordingly. And if you do something accidentally, fess up to it at the very least. From experience, nothing is more infuriating (and inspiration to stop having parties) than finding a mess, a broken glass, etc., that a guest made after the party is all over and everyone has left. If you're truly a good friend and you are responsible, clean up immediately, offer to pay for cleaning or the cost of replacing the broken item. It's the grown up thing to do.
- Respect your host's guest requests. If your host is allowing a plus one only, but your two best friends from high school dropped into town unexpectedly, just ask if it's ok. And although plus one is generally reserved for significant others, spouses and partners, close friends or family are a-ok to bring as well. But use your judgment when bringing random friends.
- Try not to show up empty-handed when going to a party at someone's home, unless specifically requested. You can never have too much booze and you don't have to worry about other guests' food allergies! But even a small box of chocolates just for the hosts is always appreciated.
- Be realistic about your RSVP. Don't say you're going to someone's birthday bash if you're really not feelin' it. Put yourself as a maybe and let your host know what the probability of you showing up. If the event is happening across multiple venues over an evening, meet up with the group later.
- If you are invited to a party at a bar, restaurant, etc., let your host know in advance if you are planning to arrive later than the first 30 mins of the party. Particularly if your host is having dinner at a restaurant and has made a reservation for a specific number of people at a specific time, your host could end up losing their reserved area and risk being embarrassed by venue staff for no-shows. Again, from personal experience, not cool to make the host look bad.

That's all for today folks! Happy Monday!

No comments:

Post a Comment