Tips and Solutions Detail

Deb Fabricant's Top 12 Party Tips

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Think you know everything about party etiquette? Think again. Manners and party etiquette are Deb Fabricant’s expertise. Check out twelve of her best tips that will make you a wonderful guest, and an even better host.

Deb's Tips

  1. RSVP-ing for a Party: At any dinner or party, your host or hostess has gone to a great deal of time, expense and planning, be it large or intimate. It is your duty to RSVP. There are no excuses for not telling them if you will attend or not…NO excuses, puleeze! Just pick up the phone or send a quick email. (And, don’t wait until the last minute, it is rude.)
  2. What to Bring to a Party- If you bring flowers to the host or hostess, please, please, please bring them in a suitable container or vase. There are few things more perplexing than trying to serve hors d’oeuvres, introduce guests, take coats and check on food, and to have a guest with a bunch of flowers looking for a vase!! Besides, most hostesses already have flowers in the house for the party. Why not bring a good wine, candles or something edible. Or, if they have a pooch or kitty, bring something for Fido or Fifi!!
  3. When to Arrive: According to Charlotte Ford’s 21st Century Etiquette, the 15-minute-late standard is acceptable for a dinner party; in fact, your host will probably expect it. Unless you are asked to show up early to help, respect the host and arrive within 20 minutes of the party’s designated start time. Being an hour late is just not acceptable, disrupts the cadence of the already begun party and is embarrassing…to YOU.
  4. How to Start a Conversation: In this day and age, asking “What do you do” is akin to asking “What can you do for me?” Forget about it! It is unimaginative! It is hard to come up with a brilliant replacement, however, but you might try something like “How do you know the host?” or “What part of town do you live in”? or “What is your favorite sports team/restaurant?” These will usually segue into a more meaningful conversation that will ultimately reveal what a person does!
  5. Where to Sit: Even for small dinner parties, I prefer to make place cards. The reason for this is to make my guests feel relaxed and taken care of. Should you go to a party where you must fend for yourself, scope out the guests early on to decide who is interesting enough to spend an evening with. And, avoid sitting with your spouse or significant other…you see them all the time…so get out there and mingle!! To be clingy is boring.
  6. Forgetting Names, or Rather, Remembering Them!:- It is perfectly understandable to forget someone’s name when you have only met them once. Should this happen, simply say, “Please tell me your name again.” If by chance you have met this person before and blank on the name, then solicit the help of a friend to start a conversation to introduce the two. The person whose name you forgot will offer up his name. If someone is struggling with YOUR name, be generous and re-introduce yourself by saying, “I’m Deb, and we met through Lynn the other day at the Nelson’s.”
  7. Making a Toast: The clinking of glasses is a synergizing force at a gathering. If there is a guest of honor, let the host make the toast, and then you may chime in. Someone should, however, before the end of the evening, toast the host. And, remember…when you clink glasses, look the person IN THE EYE as you toast!
  8. Cleaning Your Plate: There are times when you are caught at a dinner party and absolutely do not like the food being served. What to do? Simply take a bite or two of everything that is served, eat what you do like and leave the rest of it alone. Do not make your feelings known, however, for that would embarrass you and your hosts.
  9. How To Be Entertaining at a Gathering: You have been invited to a party for a reason. It is your obligation to be “present” at the party, to join in on conversation and listen to others. Your host will be pleased that you were a good guest. At a loss for words? The day of the party read the paper, listen to the news, remember good books and movies you have recently enjoyed, remember sports information, think about what you have enjoyed recently, be it a museum, restaurant or outing, and be prepared to talk about it. Also, remember to be a good listener by asking questions of your dinner partner. One way I remember to ask questions is to imagine I’m a news interviewer like Larry King and pretend I’m interviewing my dinner partner!!
  10. Taking Leave: The general rule is to linger at a gathering for at least an hour after dinner in order to avoid the eat-and-run syndrome. Making a graceful exit is sometimes difficult because if you are the first to leave, you don’t want to cause a stampede, so exit as quickly and gracefully as possible. If the party is very large, there is no need to say good-bye to everyone, but it is proper to seek out the hosts and thank them for a wonderful evening.
  11. Cleaning Up. The kitchen is the friendliest room in the house, so it is polite to ask if your help is desired when it comes time to clean up. It is also perfectly polite for the host to decline your help. I, for one, like to pamper my guests, so I decline any help, unless it is a family dinner and then I do expect a little help. For more formal dinner parties, I try and get someone who will clean the kitchen if the budget allows. (Even a teenager who wants to earn extra money is a great way to get that kitchen cleaned up!) That said, it is always nice to offer... hosts appreciate your willingness.
  12. Thanking The Host: It is customary to call or write a brief note thanking the host or hostess for a party. I prefer to write a note, since it shows that you took the time to sit down and make a special effort. However, in today’s electronic age, it is acceptable to send an email as a way of thanks. In any case, THANK YOUR HOST!! (Again, they went to a lot of time, expense and trouble on your behalf…a simple thank you is not asking too much.)

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