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How to Avoid Common Hellish Etiquette Mistakes

Save yourself embarrassment as well as the embarrassment of other people by learning to avoid the most common etiquette mistakes.


  • Step 1: Introduce guests Introduce guests or acquaintances to each other. If you're uncomfortable because you've forgotten someone's name, admit your lapse, apologize, and make the introduction. Admitting that you have a poor memory is preferable to being rude to both parties by not introducing them.
  • Step 2: RSVP Respond to invitations promptly, even if the host doesn't ask for a response. If you have to check your schedule, tell the host that you'll inform them of your availability as soon as you can. Not responding to invitations right away is rude because it suggests that you're waiting for a better offer.
  • TIP: Your host will have a difficult time planning an event without knowing who's coming.
  • Step 3: Follow instructions Follow the instructions on an invitation. If the invitation says not to bring a gift, then don't bring a gift. If you bring a gift against your host's instructions, you'll embarrass everyone who followed the directions.
  • TIP: If you have a gift that you really want to give to the host, give it to them in private either before or after the event.
  • Step 4: Don't ask for a tour Don't ask the host of a house party for a tour of their home. Respect your host's privacy and don't wander off, away from the other guests. Unless it's a housewarming party, the host isn't obligated to show you around.
  • Step 5: Avoid dictating a menu Avoid requesting special food at dinner parties. If you're a guest at a dinner party, finesse making dietary stipulations, such as requesting vegetarian food or other dietary preferences.
  • TIP: If you have a food allergy, tactfully ask the host if there are items being served that you should avoid.
  • Step 6: Expect to pay for your guests Expect to pick up the entire check if you're hosting a celebration at a restaurant. If you can't afford to pay for everyone, trim the guest list or consider having the celebration at a less expensive venue.
  • Step 7: Communicate speakerphone use Tell the person you're talking to when they're on speakerphone. The other person on the line may want to speak candidly or confidentially, and you risk embarrassing or offending them and the other people who can hear them.
  • Step 8: Talk to children Speak directly to children rather than commenting about them to other adults. If you're curious about how old the child is or how they're doing in school, address them directly and show them the same courtesy you would show to another adult.
  • TIP: If you're concerned about something personal, such as a health issue, wait and discuss it with the parent privately.
  • Step 9: Send wedding gifts promptly Send a wedding gift as close to the date of the wedding as possible. The myth that you can allow yourself as long as a year to send a wedding gift can cause hurt feelings.
  • FACT: Emily Post's book, Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage, was first published in 1922.

You Will Need

  • Introductions
  • Responses
  • Instructions
  • Respect
  • Money
  • Courtesy
  • Promptness
  • Conscientiousness

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