Holiday Party Etiquette

Sutton Quantum

Holiday Party Etiquette

The term “party etiquette” is something of an oxymoron - aren’t parties about letting loose with friends? Don’t worry, we aren’t here to lecture you on which fork to use or how to fold your napkins into origami swans. Planning a party is a huge undertaking on the part of the host not only at the best of times but especially over the holidays, and the best way to express gratitude is to show up as a thoughtful and considerate house guest. Follow our list of tips, and you will guarantee yourself an invite back next year.


Your host will likely want to know the final numbers for the party well in advance, so make their life easier by letting them know as soon as possible whether or not you will be able to attend. If you delay your reply, you may hinder the host’s planning or worse, make them feel as though they’re playing second fiddle to another event. Even if no RSVP has been requested, take the time to thank your host for the invitation and let them know if you can attend or not.

Timing Is Everything

Generally speaking, guests should arrive approximately 15 minutes after the time indicated on the invitation. And whatever you do, don’t arrive early as the hosts may still be preparing and setting up. If you find yourself running late, call your host with an ETA.Even if you don't really want to attend, avoid arriving 20 minutes before the end just to make an appearance and on the flip side, read the room and don’t overstay your welcome either.

Introduce Yourself

Gone are the days when one was obligated to wait for a mutual acquaintance to introduce two strangers. Cast your shyness aside and introduce yourself to anyone you don’t know - especially if you see a wallflower who doesn’t seem to know anyone. This will really help your host out! If the party is a work function, make a point of speaking with senior staff and VP’s and get into the holiday spirit by mingling with coworkers from other departments.

Just Go With It

When your host announces that it’s time to eat, rally the crew and head straight to the table. If there are games or activities planned, participate graciously and enthusiastically no matter how you may really feel. Your host has gone to much trouble to plan a fun-filled evening, and it will be gratifying for them to see everyone enjoying themselves, even if Cards Against Humanity isn’t your thing.

Lend A Helping Hand

Be specific with your offer to help. If you’re kibitzing with the host in the kitchen for instance, offer to prep the appetizers or rinse the dishes. Even if your offer is refused, your gesture will neither go unnoticed nor unappreciated. When the party comes to a close, offer to stick around and help with the cleanup.

Don’t Overindulge

By all means, eat, drink, and be merry - but in moderation. Gorging yourself on canapes and pounding back hot toddies will not only attract the wrong kind of attention, it will also leave less food for other guests and embarrass the host.

Thank Your Host Twice

Be sure to always thank your host enthusiastically as you make your departure. A second thank you by phone the day after the party is not an expectation, but is certainly a gracious gesture. Your hostput in a great deal of effort hoping you would have a good time, so give credit where credit is due and let them know they did a bang-up job.