With Thanksgiving and the holidays quickly approaching, our calendars will soon fill up with various dinner parties and gatherings. Connecting with friends and family-- being invited into their homes to share home cooked meals and stories is what makes this time of year so special.
So let’s talk about how to be a good dinner guest, rather than just showing up for dinner. Of course there are the basics: don’t dine and dash, don’t drink too much, arrive on time. But there’s more to being a good dinner guest in 2021 than that!
Respect the RSVP
Whether it's a phone call, text, or responding to a Facebook invite, make sure to RSVP as soon as possible so the hostess knows how many people they’re cooking for. Let them know if you’re bringing a guest and if there are any dietary restrictions they should know about. Point out important things like food allergies, but not preferences or lifestyle choices. For example, if you’re vegan, rather than asking for the host to make separate dishes for you, offer to bring a vegan-friendly item.
When in Doubt, Dress up
If you’re unsure what the dress code is, dress up rather than dressing down. It’s always wise to go into an event with a “dress to impress” mentality so you look and feel your best. If you’ve ever shown up to a gathering under dressedthen you know how it degrades your confidence for the entire night- not to mention, it sends the impression to the hostess that you don’t overly care about being there.
Don’t go way over the top with your finest heels and faux fur, but think about it as an opportunity to wear that new cocktail dress or blouse you just got. People tend to dress up more around the holidays, so have fun and embrace it!
Bring a Unique Hostess gift
When attending a dinner party, it’s proper etiquette to bring a little something for the hostess. The first thing that usually comes to mind is a bottle of wine, but we like to put a bit more thought into our hostess gifts. The holidays are a time for giving, after all.
The hostess will get tons of bottles of wine from the other guests, so it’s nice to bring something unique and creative, like home goods, art, or artisanal foods. You can always find unique gifts at Zinnia’s, especially for the holidays. But these are a few of our favorite hostess gift ideas:
This beautifully crafted walnut cheese boardcomes with an adorable turtle spreader and elevates any charcuterie presentation. If the hostess has gatherings regularly then this will be a beloved gift that will get plenty of use.
Offer help even if you know they won't accept it
There are two kinds of people in the kitchen: those who love all the help they can get, and those who’d rather do everything themselves. Neither are wrong, people just have different styles and preferences of cooking and preparing food.
Unless it's your first time attending an event at said person’s house, you likely already know what type of person they are, but it’s common courtesy to offer help either way. If they respectfully decline, carry on about your night. The host will feel most comfortable if you’re mingling with other guests rather than lingering in the kitchen. What matters is that you offered to help--- which speaks volumes about you as a guest!
Know how to have a good Conversation
Parties are all about socializing, but talking to new people can feel intimidating if striking conversation is outside of your comfort zone. Having a good conversation is all about asking the right questions, and following up with thoughtful answers. People love talking about themselves, so asking thoughtful questions is the simplest way to make someone like you.
Instead of asking “Where do you work?”, try being more meaningful with your question, like, “What are you most passionate about right now?” Prompting someone to talk about what they’re excited about will make them feel good and at ease- which is exactly what you want when getting to know someone.
You don’t need to be able to relate to everything they’re saying, either. As humans, we try to relate as much as possible, but that can quickly turn a friendly conversation into a “who did it better” contest. Just relax, listen, and be open to learning something new.
Holiday gatherings are meant to be enjoyed, so there’s no need to stress as long as you follow this simple etiquette on how to be a good dinner guest.