Expert Secrets on Being a Gracious Guest

woman at dinner party
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Never have a party foul again -- this etiquette expert shares her secrets on being a great guest.

The holiday season is in full swing and that means parties galore. And while we know that a good guest RSVP's early and arrives on time (not fashionably late), we asked for modern etiquette expert, Brittany Deal, for her top tips from her book Savvy Girl, A Guide to Etiquette, to help make sure you avoid an epic party foul.

1. Always Bring a Gift
No matter what the size of the gathering, the friendship status or type of event, you should never show up empty handed. Deal says, “A host gift is an etiquette must. When choosing a host gift, think of the host's preferences: Do they adore dark chocolate? Is their favorite indulgence a bottle of rosé? Perhaps they love peonies?" Simply put, you don't have to spend a ton, just make it personal.

2. Help Your Host
Yes, it is a party that you're attending, but be polite and help your host out! “Ask the host if you can bring something or do anything to help prepare for the event. And don't forget to offer to help the host when they're prepping the food and washing the dishes," says Deal.

3. Use Coasters
It's not your home and you don't know how particular the host is, meaning, do the added step and use a coaster. “Don't leave 'I was here' drink marks. If you set your drink down, make sure there's a coaster or cocktail napkin under your glass," says Deal. Besides, using a coaster is easier and cheaper than having the table refinished.

4. Know When to Call it a Night
Look for subtle hints from your host that the party is over because, it's not a bar where the lights will be oh-so-rudely flicked on at the end of the evening. Deal says, “Look for cues! Last-call hints include:

  • The invitation specified an end time
  • The host starts cleaning up
  • The host turns off the music
  • The guest of honor has left the party
  • The host says, 'This was so much fun, I'm glad you could make it!'"

5. Express Your Gratitude
In the age of digital overload, you may think that a simple text or email thank you is enough—after all, that's how you communicate the most. Guess again! “Write a handwritten thank you note within two weeks of the event. Be sure to include thoughtful details from the gathering," says Deal. The expert continues that you can also call to parlay your thanks, but also send a note.

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