It’s a couple weeks away from Thanksgiving which means the beginning of the never ending litany of holiday parties, dinners, gatherings and so on…obligatory events abound. I’m right there with you if your first thought is UGH I have to be smiley and nice and watch my sailor mouth for like a whole month. I’m never gonna make it, I mean I take pride in being on Santa’s naughty list…it makes life interesting! However, I always have my parents voices in the back of my mind telling me not to embarrass them, so I try to be the best guest I can. Here are some fool proof tips on how to make your hosts happy while also making sure you are on the invite list for next year.
- Always, always, always bring a hostess gift – I’m not saying you have to go crazy here, and honestly small is better as you don’t want to make your host/hostess uncomfortable but rather just thank them for thinking of you and for opening their home. I think the people who give parties are the ones who also give the best gifts, because they know what they would want to see come through their door if they were the host that day. Something like a bottle of wine or, for a more festive feel, a little bubbly bottle of Prosecco is always a welcome gift. It doesn’t need to be used right that minute and is still a nice gesture. If you know their favorite brand or even favorite type of wine, that’s great, but if not, just get a mid priced, nice bottle of something you would drink yourself. It’s also a great re-gift for their next party, not that I’ve ever done that before, of course. Another very typical, but also appreciated item is a small flower arrangement. However, there is a right and a wrong way to do this. Please do NOT bring something that needs to be put in water. Your hostess is probably running around doing about 500 last minute things and trying to make sure everyone is happy, fed, and has a cocktail in their hand. The last thing they need to be doing is looking for a vase to throw your flowers into. Think ahead and get a small arrangement that is in a low container so it is easy to place anywhere. I’m also a fan of edible hostess gifts, something as simple as a half dozen beautiful apples from the orchard arranged in a pretty basket from the dollar store can be a really nice gift. You can do the same thing with something like muffins for the next morning clean up efforts or even cinnamon rolls or pre-bought pastries. It’s always nice to not have to think about breakfast the day after a party.
- Be relatively on time – During the holidays everyone is nuts, we all know this. There is also more traffic, longer lines and basically insanity at every turn. So being 100% on the dot on time is not really possible all the time. However, don’t stroll in an hour and a half late either. It’s frustrating to the host, it’s rude, and especially at small gatherings, it makes you look like an asshole. If you find that you are really going to be late, I say more than a half hour, then at least have the consideration to call to let them know. I’m much more forgiving of late comers when I at least knew they weren’t dead on the side of the road, as my mother says. The same goes for being early by the way. If you show up an hour early, that totally throws off the hostesses plans for last minute preparations, like getting dressed. If you are a close friend or family member and plan on helping, then great, but if you are just a guest and plan on being entertained, then go finish up some Christmas shopping in that hour, cause I don’t need you to be hovering and asking for a drink while I’m trying to fix my makeup and walk through the house with my bra on checking the status of the apps in the oven. Just sayin.
- Be happy and social, or don’t be there – I don’t care if you just got told that your dog has cancer or that you lost your job. If you can’t put on your game face and be sociable, happy and grateful to be there among friends or family, at least on the outside, then don’t show up. Politely call and tell the host you won’t be able to make it and make everyone’s life easier. If you are part of a couple then go without your partner if they don’t need you with them. Jay is not always the best in crowds, especially if they are in unfamiliar places. No sweat, I go myself. He’s grateful that he doesn’t have to fight a panic attack all night, and I’m happy that I still get to spend time with friends and family. You do NOT always have to be a two man team, this isn’t a high school homecoming. The point is that people want to see you, want to spend some time, hear about your life, and share stories of theirs. What they don’t want is for you to be bitching, miserable, and drunk by the end of the night because you are dulling your feelings with cranberry vodka punch. If you think that you will be no fun, you probably won’t be, so stay home with your bottle of tequilla where you can’t hurt anyone’s feelings or give them something to talk about when you finally do leave.
- Go home – This may sound simple, but trust me, there are times when I have wanted to just launch people off my couch and out the door. It’s one thing to be helpful and to stick around to clean up some plates and food. It’s a complete other thing when you are still there while I’ve changed into my pajamas and have started to shut off the lights, praying you will get the idea. Go to the party, have a nice time, stay a little to help clean up if you are so inclined, but then go the hell home and let me have my cup of tea and watch the food network in silence, basking in the glow of a successful event.
Being a good guest really just means being the kind of person that you want to spend time with yourself. Engage in conversation, don’t require your host to babysit you, and enjoy the atmosphere of the holidays even if you are wishing you could get out of those heels. Take some joy in the beauty of their holiday decorations, enjoy those delicious little cookies, and sit by that warm fire in the living room. Let go, get out of the checklist of to do’s in your own head, and you might just find yourself enjoying the events more than you had expected.