There is nothing worse for your host, or other guests than being a bad guest yourself. Have you even taken someone with you only to be ashamed of the things that they do? Not only can this be awkward and an obviously embarrassing for the person you chose to bring, it can also be a poor reflection on your choice of company especially if this is the first introduction.
Topping the list of poor guests include; arriving late or not at all without communication, creating a scene, unnecessary mess or tension among guests, poor manners or simply being unappreciative.
So to explain a little further here are some of the top things to do, in my opinion, to be a proper polite guest:
- Arrive on time, or a little late – It’s okay to arrive a little late. This can allow your host to do the last few minute things, wipe down bench tops, remove cling wrap from nibble plates, get changed etc. But if you arrive early, they will be darting around you to do those things instead which will create stress for them to as they try to play good host and listen to what you try to say, meanwhile checking off their ‘to do’ list in their head, which they would have done if you arrived on time or a little late already.
In addition to this is also the arriving late, arriving a little late is okay, and does allow your host to just poor themselves a wine and wait for you and take a breather. If you are too late though this can cause again stress on your host to consider starting without you as well as if they are timing food for your arrival. To play polite a quick call or message to inform them your running late is best and don’t request they wait for you.
Not turning up at all without an explanation is downright rude, and a poor show of character. If you have an emergency ask someone to let them know if you can’t, I am sure you have communicated with someone! And next time you should offer to play Host instead. It is a poor show of respect to not show up or cancel without good reason as this can create undue stress on your host who has cleared their schedule, prepared for the event and no doubt wasted money.
- Bring something – Be a little thoughtful. It doesn’t have to be anything big. Maybe some nice flowers for the table, a bottle of wine, a box of liquor chocolates to crack open later or even some homemade jam or something if you get creative but it is a show of appreciation for their efforts. Better yet if you can ask if there is something you can bring, maybe a cheese platter, salad or dessert and if they decline still bring something small for their own use. If you don’t drink the standard ‘beer, win or cider’ if on offer then don’t ask to be catered for. You stock your own special drinks.
- Don’t be argumentative – We all have our opinions, but pick your battles. There is nothing worse than everyone else having to listen to your full blown debate on how to cook the best steak over dinner. Consider if the comments are even of actual value to you or if you just want to hear your own voice and then shut it if the latter. While the risk of this gets higher as you drink a little more, if you notice your significant other doing it have a quiet word to them in the corner.
On the side of this no one wants to see a domestic over dinner, keep snide comments and bringing up couple issues aside and wait until you’re in the car on the way home.
- Have your manners – Remember the ‘don’t eat with your fingers, don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t eat all the chicken before everyone else gets a look in, elbows off the table and we all know a grown man knows how to use a knife and fork’ They are all simple manners that maybe at home in front of the TV it’s okay to forget but now you are around company, particularly if it’s a first impression situation, be mindful of this, and don’t scald someone if they give you a friendly reminder, your only annoyed because you just realised what you have been doing.
- Pick up after yourself – Your host will have enough cleaning to do when you leave from mopping, sweeping, washing up etc. without you not assisting where possible. See the bin put out for recycling bottles? Use it, and the same goes for bottle lids, the most annoying to pick up the next day. Spill something? Ask for a towel to mop it up don’t pull a cushion over it, now you have ruined two things. If there is a dishwasher, that’s being used, stack your items in as well, notice its full? Ask how to turn it on. And when you come in its best practice to ask shoes off, even if it’s obvious they will be allowed on!
- Say thank you – you don’t have to toast the host or anything over board, but a thank you on the way out, as well as at least complimenting the food in some way is appreciated. If you really do adore a dish, then by all means rave about it but don’t go overboard where undue. You may even like to ask for the recipe and leave it at that.
- Don’t stay past your welcome – if your host has washed up, closed everything up, and not offering more drinks, maybe even looking a bit tired or mentioned everything they have on the following day it may be time to take your leave. As a good host they won’t push you out the door and also would have previously mentioned a curfew if they were worried but if you notice these signs play good guest and take it as a sign to leave. It will be obvious at the start of the night if it was intended to be a big one or a casual dinner.
So with all these in mind you should now be the perfect guest and I will talk about how to return the favor with being the perfect host in the coming weeks!
It’s okay if you even want to send this to a friend that may need a helpful reminder of manners.