How to be the ideal guest this Festive Season

There are plenty of adages about manners and etiquette that you will no doubt be able to recite perfectly, thanks to your mom, dad or grandparents – all of whom were instrumental in ensuring you never forgot them. The Festive Season means your calendar is most likely filled with both personal and professional events to attend that require you to be on top form when it comes to manners. Here’s a guide to making sure you’re not the one who makes for the most embarrassing Facebook pictures at the office party or alienating friends with a faux pas.

If you’re attending an end-of-year party

The end of the year is cause for much celebration amongst friends and colleagues as we can all finally have a little fun and honour the past year. End-of-year office parties are known for key personalities to reveal themselves, with less than spectacular results. Time and again, it’s been proven that alcohol and social media don’t mix. By all means, enjoy your office party but keep your wits about you so that you don’t become a topic of office gossip, especially if your superiors are also attending.

office party

Mingle with people from different departments at your office party. Image: blog.credit.com

For parties being thrown by friends or family, make sure you let them know if you’re attending or not – flakiness is not polite. Bring your own alcohol with you (unless specified) and a small gift for the host or hostess to thank them for having you. If you’re bringing food, don’t bring something that takes ages to set up or hogs the kitchen for too long – the kitchen is always busy at parties. Lastly and most importantly, remember to car pool with a designated driver or leave your car at home and use a cab service.

If you’re staying at someone’s home for the holidays

There is a common rule that most people find helpful: “How would you want your guests to behave in your home?” A good place to start is by asking your hosts the house rules or what dos and don’ts apply to them. For example, they may have small children so the house needs to be quiet after a certain time. The following goes without saying when you’re staying in someone else’s home:

  • Mop up any water you leave in the bathroom after a shower
  • Keep the bathroom you use clean
  • Hang up any towels you use
  • Wipe up any mess you make in the kitchen and wash your crockery
  • Make your bed
  • Offer to help cook meals or clean up after.
guest etiquette

Making your bed and ensuring the guest room is tidy is a must. Image: www.mnn.com

Of course, there will be other things to watch out for depending on whose home you’re staying at, so use common sense to ensure you don’t step on any toes.

If you’re attending a Festive Season lunch or dinner

The best thing about the Festive Season is most definitely the food. Rosemary chicken, golden potatoes and irresistible gravy are just a few of the things we all look forward to. If you’re attending a close friend or relative’s meal, they will have most likely delegated something for each guest to bring.

dinner party

Do bring your own alcohol or drinks even if you don’t drink it. Image: www.playbuzz.com

As it’s the holiday season, your host or hostess is probably cooking for a large group. Therefore, you wouldn’t be remiss in gifting them with a small token of your appreciation. A bouquet, bottle of Nederburg wine or slab of quality chocolate normally does the trick. If you’re attending a lunch or dinner at a significant other’s family’s home or at a home you’ve never been to before, it’s customary to offer to help prepare or wash up. While eating the meal, remember to keep a napkin in your lap, try to avoid discussing controversial topics if you’re visiting for the first time and offer to pour people’s drinks if need be.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be set for any event you’re invited to this year. As a final tip, always remember to be polite to whoever is hosting by sending them a message the next day to say thanks.


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