How to Behave at a Party

12.8.2005

By Out.com Editors

'Tis the season many of us seem to spend more time at other people's homes than in our own. Here are a few tips on how to be a fantastic party guest in someone's house that apply all year 'round.

1) RSVP
First off, if you get an invite, respond. Yes, no, maybe'whatever! It doesn't matter if it's an Evite or an invitation engraved on gold leaf. Unless the invite says 'Regrets Only,' let your host know if you will be coming. If they thought enough to invite you, the least you can do is think enough of them to give them a proper head count.

2) Read the Damn Invitation
Know what you're getting yourself into. If the invite reads 'Formal Dress,' don't show up in a Hawaiian shirt ready for a luau. If it says 'Dinner begins promptly at 7 p.m.,' don't show up at 8 p.m. and expect a meal. If it says 'Please bring a bottle of wine,' don't arrive empty-handed. And if it says 'The foam party begins at 11 p.m.,' stay at home.

3) When to Show Up
No one wants to be the first one at the party, right? Well, sometimes. If you are close friends with the host, you should feel free to get to the shindig as early as you like (although preferably not before your host)'a good host will be prepared but could also use the support of a close friend or two. If you are not a close friend or have an aversion to showing up on time, feel free to get to the party one hour late. If you know the party will go late, it's OK to show up anytime until one hour before the end of the party. That way the host won't have to feel bad they're washing dishes while you're enjoying your first cocktail.

4) Who to Bring
This is another case where it's good to read. If the invite tells you to come with a guest, don't show up with five people. If it isn't specific, it's smart to ask your host if it's OK if you bring the cast of the local production of Oklahoma! before you show up at his door with the stagecoach.

5) Alcohol Is Your Friend
But, like all friends, she can stab you in the back when you aren't looking. So pay attention to how much booze you consume. Not only do you want to survive driving home, you don't want your host to kill you when you start drunkenly making out with his boyfriend.

6) Stay Out of the Kitchen
For some reason, people at parties always seem to gravitate toward the kitchen, even if all the food is in the living room. Scientists have been trying to explain this phenomenon for years, to no avail. So do everyone a favor and get out of the kitchen. The odds are there may be bartenders or caterers who need to be there more than you do.

7) Always Say Thank You
Even if you slice your hand open with your dinner knife and require 50 stitches, it is still nice to thank your host within one week after the party. Especially if he's the one who drove you to the emergency room.

8) Offer to Help
Maybe you notice bags of food arriving faster than they can be put out by your host, who didn't think to hire any help. Or maybe you see 723 empty beer bottles lying around your friend's home at the end of the night and everyone is hightailing it out of there before they can be lassoed into lending a hand. Do the right thing. Offer to help. Even if you would rather stick shards of broken glass in your eyes.

9) When to Leave
Unless you are having the most miserable time in the history of your existence on Earth, you should try to stay at a party for at least an hour. On the other end of the spectrum, if your host has gotten into his pajamas, you should probably say your goodnights.

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