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How to Be a Good Party Guest

A good party guest should live by this motto: Ask not what the party can do for you, but what can you do for the party!


  • Step 1: Arrive at appropriate time Arrive at an appropriate time. For a dinner party, that�s within 15 minutes of the invited time. With an all-night bash, you have more leeway. If you�re running late, call to let your host know.
  • TIP: Don�t arrive early, but don�t be afraid to be on time. Your host may be anxious for the first guest to arrive, and your presence will not only be a relief but it will earn extra �guest points��especially if you offer to help.
  • Step 2: Bring a gift Never come empty-handed. Unless you know the host�s taste well, consumables make the best gifts. A jar of artisanal preserves is a better choice than, say, a porcelain tchotchke.
  • Step 3: Mingle Don�t cleave to your date�mingle. Talk to someone you don�t know�or even don�t like. It helps to be knowledgeable about a wide range of subjects and to have read a newspaper that morning to be up on current events.
  • TIP: Judge the crowd and determine what kind of topics might catch everyone�s interest. Don�t rule out sex, politics, and religion, or even all three at once.
  • Step 4: Ask questions Ask questions. If you're stymied by someone who's shy or doesn�'t seem interested in the same topics as you, fall back on questions that aren't overly personal, such as, "How do you know the host?"
  • Step 5: Drink in moderation If the party is even close to formal, drink in moderation. A single lampshade on the head will follow you for the rest of your life.
  • TIP: Because it can feel awkward to stand around empty-handed, find a drink you like that is either non- or only slightly alcoholic. However clich�, spritzers are a good call.
  • Step 6: Take pictures Take pictures! If you�ve thought ahead to bring a camera, you�ll do the host a great favor by recording the evening so they don�t have to, and then sharing them soon after the party.
  • Step 7: Don't overstay your welcome Leave before the host starts wishing you�d go. If you�re not sure, err on the early side.
  • Step 8: Thank the host Thank the host the next day. A note in the mail is always appreciated�and particularly appropriate for a formal affair�but, despite what your grandmother told you, a call or email is often just fine.
  • FACT: The ancient Greek symposium, the precursor to the modern party, featured music, food, intellectual discussion, and wine served by nude young men�those Greeks could party!

You Will Need

  • An invitation
  • And a gift for the host
  • A liberal
  • though not necessarily higher
  • education

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