How to Be a Great Guest | 11 Tips to Perfect Guest Etiquette this Holiday Season

holiday party etiquette

’Tis the season for celebrating. Every year, the holidays brings invitations to a variety of seasonal parties. Whether it’s a quick lunch get-together or an elegant cocktail affair, guest etiquette is important. As a host, there’s nothing better than having a guest that is well-mannered, respectful, thoughtful, and grateful.

Here are 11 tips to follow to be a great guest and practice perfect guest etiquette this holiday season.


It’s so easy to look over the RSVP when you get the invite. RSVP-ing is such a small task that it’s easy to forget or put off until the day is here. While it may seem like a nuisance to you, an RSVP makes a whole world of difference to your host. As soon as you know whether or not you can attend, fill it out and send it back in a timely manner.

2. Arrive Timely

We’ve all consciously arrived “fashionably late” to a party. And we’ve all taken fashionably late to the next level. Arriving within a 10-15 minute window of the invite’s start time is polite and respectful. If you’re too early, you’ll get in the way of party prep; if you’re too late, you might miss something important — like the start of dinner.

3. Bring a Gift

how to be a great guest: bring a gift

The number one tip on how-to be a great guest is to bring a gift! All kinds of small etiquette errors can be forgiven if you bring the right gift.

Finding the right host/hostess gift can be tricky. As a host, they most likely already have the things they’d usually receive — wine openers, a candle, cheeseboard, etc. So give a gift that is unique and that keeps on giving: the gift of growing! A Giftable Garden, an Inbox of Herbs, the Amaryllis Bulbs…the options are endless. Holiday-themed and not.

4. Check on Children

As a mother, it’s really easy to assume the whole family is invited. However, not all parties are family-friendly — even during the holidays. Only assume that the person whose name is on the invite is invited. If you’re unsure whether you have a plus one or whether it’s a family event, simply ask! This will save your host from having an unexpected amount of guests and save you from having your kids at a cocktail party.

5. Handle Accidents with Grace

Accidents happen — it’s inevitable. When you spill your wine or break a dish, handle it with grace! Hosts know that they risk this kind of thing when they invite everyone over. If you apologize, help clean up, and offer to pay for any damages, no real damage will be done.

6. Know When to Leave

As a host, guests that stay past their welcome is a number 1 pet peeve. First, check the time on the invite. If there’s an end time, be sure to leave by said time no matter what. If not, be aware of the time and, most importantly, of your host.

Remember: Although you’ve mostly been relaxing all evening, your host has been working. Your host will likely give you signs that they’re ready for the guests to leave. Pay attention to their body language and their actual language, and you won’t have to worry about overstaying your welcome.

7. Ask about House Rules

Everyone has their things — the things they just can’t be “chill” about. The best practice is to simply ask. They may want you to take off your shoes or stay out of a specific area. If you ask, you won’t have to wonder. You’ll know.

8. Lend a Hand!

Hosts need help, but they’ll never ask for it. It’s part of being a good host. That’s why part of being a great guest is to offer to help and mean it! Help clean up dinner, offer to carry things to and from the kitchen, etc. Ask any host — there’s plenty to do! By lending a hand, you’ll make your host much happier and the evening will run much more smoothly.

9. Limit Your Phone Use

This is more just a basic courtesy rule than guest etiquette, but it’s surprisingly hard to follow. Leave your phone in your bag or pocket throughout the night. Celebrate with the people you’re with, give them your full attention, and truly engage with the night your host has set up for you.

10. Leave Things Cleaner Than You Found Them

While a mess is inevitable at a party, certain messes are not. While there’s only so much you can do about crumbs on the tablecloth after dinner, try and leave most spaces cleaner than when you found them.

If you use the restroom, shut the toilet lid, wipe the counter, and refold the towel. If you sit on the couch, take a moment to reposition the pillows. This will make the cleanup much simpler and more enjoyable for your host!

11. Send a Thank You!

how to be a great guest: send a thank you

Post celebration, it’s a lovely touch to send a thank you note. It’s not an imperative rule of guest etiquette (unless you spend the night), but it’s always a nice surprise for your guest. Expressing gratitude is always important, so don’t be afraid to say it a few times, in a few ways.

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