You don’t always have to arrive on time for a dinner party and fresh-cut flowers are not always the perfect house-warming present.
If you’ve been invited to the dinner party, it may be a casual, laid-back gathering of long-time friends, or it could be a more formal occasion like a fundraising event or an awards ceremony. Much work goes into hosting a dinner party. That’s why, as guests, we have a responsibility to conduct ourselves politely.
However, following these basic rules of etiquette as a dinner party guest will always increase your chances of being invited back.
1. The RSVP
It’s official: you’re invited. Now, you must answer the RSVP as soon as possible. Your host needs to know how many people will be attending the party to properly plan for it. It’s a good idea to advise the host of any dietary restrictions or allergies that you may have.
2. The Arrival
Don’t neglect the start time listed on your invitation: You shouldn’t arrive too early or too late. “Arrive on time”. Avoid bringing any additional guests that have not been cleared by the host of the dinner party first. And yes don’t forget to bring a gift for the host.
3. During the party
What should you do if you don’t know anyone except for the host? Come with a few talking points in mind. Participate in a conversation that you feel comfortable joining and introduce yourself where appropriate. If you know a few people at the dinner party, they can help you with introductions to other guests. You should also do the same for other guests.
4. Dress code
Formal dinner etiquette requires special dress codes. Formal dress codes, such as black tie, are limited to special occasions. The host must communicate a formal dress code in writing, several weeks in advance.
For less formal occasions, the host should indicate the dress code. Guests must in any case make an effort. It is good etiquette to dress differently from the normal daily clothes. If a guest is coming straight from work, it is good etiquette to at least change some accessories, such as shoes or jewelry.
The way dress codes are interpreted may vary. Usually depending on factors such as the location, or the age of the guests. Guests should mind the context. In general, it is sufficient to show that you made an effort.
5. Afterward: etiquette for after a dinner party
Thanking the host
Guests must thank their hosts for the invitation to the party. The day after, send a card or a short letter to thank them for the evening. On less formal occasions, an email can work too. If the guest and the host are intimate or close friends, a phone call is best.
If the hosts invested significant time and effort in the dinner party, considerate guests should send a gift such as flowers.
It is a fundamental etiquette rule to reciprocate any invite. Guests should invite their hosts back to another comparable social gathering. Not reciprocating is considered very bad manner.
If you were invited to a formal dinner party, you should invite your hosts back to a comparable dinner party in the foreseeable future. If you are unable to host a dinner party, you should find an alternative such as inviting your hosts to a restaurant. Do not reciprocate with an invite that requires you less effort than the effort your hosts put up.