Sequin Gowns & Mermaid Crowns : Holiday Party Etiquette

Monday, December 4, 2017

Holiday Party Etiquette

As we quickly approach the holiday season, I'm sure many of us are thinking about all of the parties and gatherings we will be attending! I know I'm already planning my outfits! However, there is one thing that, I personally feel, people don't often take into consideration anymore: etiquette.

Back in the day, when dinner parties were a weekly occasion and people dressed in their Sunday best just to eat a meal at their neighbor's house, etiquette was held to the highest standard. They even had books dedicated to it and it was taught in schools.

Today, people just kind of do whatever they want and say "screw you" to rules. But I really do think it's a lost art of manners that a lot of people still expect. So as a refresher, and so no one gets offended this holiday season, here is a list of party etiquette standards that should still be followed...if you want to be the perfect party guest that is!


To start, I really dug this quote from Slate: "RSVP abbreviates the French phrase Répondez s'il vous plaît, which means please reply, as is known by every adult worthy of receiving an invitation to anything good." Well said sir. The phrase has been around for quite some time and it's meaning seems to have become more loosely translated in recent years.

However, proper etiquette dictates that, in the event of receiving an invitation, one must respond in a timely manner. In the olden way of doing things, your lack of response would be taken as an acceptance. So basically, if you plan to come, respond as soon as possible. If you intend not to come, let the host know. The whole point of an RSVP is to get a head count for party preparations. No need for the host to make food for 30 if only 15 decide to show up. Save them the money, and stay on the list for the next party.

I also want to briefly touch on Facebook invitations. These same rules still apply! The only difference is your option to select "maybe." If you choose to do this, you should change your response to a yes or no as soon as you decide.

2. Mind the Dress Code

Some parties you may attend this holiday season may state a dress code. Depending on the venue and style of party, there are certain styles of dress that could be inappropriate.  Brush up on what each dress code means and make sure your are dressed appropriately. Most house/dinner parties will likely be semi-casual, which would be nice jeans and a blouse for ladies and jeans or khakis and a button down for guys (as and example.) Fancier parties will probably be cocktail attire, which is a cocktail (short or tea length) dress for ladies and dress pants and shirt with tie for the guys. Remember, it's better to be overdressed than underdressed! Bonus: if you're struggling for outfit ideas just search "holiday party outfits" on Pinterest! [Side note: Jean Wang of seriously knows how to slay the holiday outfit game!]

3. Actually Show Up

If you let your host know that you intend to attend, actually show up. Unless there is some kind of an emergency (anything important that requires your full attention) you should always stay good to your word. Obviously, if something comes up at the last minute, like your babysitter backing out, your host will understand and not hold you accountable. Deciding not to come at the last minute simply because "you don't feel like it" is totally unacceptable and will get you on the host's shit list real quick. Even if you lie, it's likely the host will see right through it, especially if it's close to the start of the party. Which leads me to another point: if you need to cancel, try to let the host know as early as possible. They're expecting you, so save them the worry by giving them a heads up. It's not the job of the host to have to track you down!

Also make sure you arrive on time! Some parties may have a specific start time and some may not. Make sure you know the answer to this question and arrive at the assigned time. If you must be late, let your host know and try not to be past 15 minutes: fashionably late. Fun fact: arriving more than 10 minutes (or so) early is actually just as unbecoming as being late. Coming too early leaves your host no time for last minute preparations. Best course of action is just to arrive at the start time!

4. DON'T Bring an Uninvited Guest

There are three major rules to this. One, only bring a guest if you are given a plus one on your invitation. Two, if you are invited and want to bring your SO, always ask the host unless you are all friends. Three, never just show up with an uninvited guest. It makes it very uncomfortable for the host, especially if the party is at their home. Also, that's now another person they need to make sure there is enough food and drink for.

5. DO Bring a Gift

When attending a house party, it is appropriate to bring a gift for your host. A bottle of wine is usually standard or bring something they can use for entertaining! Try a cool kitchen gadget or a parlor game! Or, if these aren't your style, ask your host before hand if there's anything you can bring. Finally, if you bring something, do NOT take it back with you when you leave! And don't take anything home (food and drink-wise) unless the host insists.

6. Be Present

The worst kind of party guest is the one who sits on the couch on their phone the whole time! Put your phone away and only break it out for photos or if your showing something as a part of a conversation. The whole point of parties is to get people to spend time together! Enjoy the company of others and spend your time mingling and making memories!

P.S. This links to a great article on what not to do at your office holiday party!!

7. Mind Your Timing

If the party has an end time, you should plan to leave at that time or just a bit earlier. What is appropriate kind of depends on the type of party and the venue. If there is an open ended time, try to feel the room and make your exit when the party seems to have come to a natural end.  If it's an all nighter kind of thing, stay for a couple hours at least and leave when you're ready! Just never leave without saying goodbye to your host!

Another thing to note: don't overstay your welcome. If everyone else has left and you notice your host looks tired, make your way out!

There are a lot of more specifics depending on the type of party, so if your not sure do a quick google search! Also, this is a really great interview with Derek Blasberg, author of Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady and it's sequel Very Classy. Both books are totally worth a read!

XO, Briana

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