Modern Day Etiquette Tips Pt. 1 – 7 Things You Must do as a Dinner Party Guest

It’s getting closer to the holidays so most of us will be attending lots of dinners, and parties, which is so exciting. With all of this fun stuff coming up we need to be on our A-game. That’s why I’ve created a three-part series all on modern-day etiquette.

In today’s post I will be giving you the 411 on the dos and don’ts of attending dinner parties.

etiquette tips

Here are seven etiquette rules you should follow at dinner parties

1. Accept/decline an invitation as soon as possible

After receiving an invitation it’s important to RSVP as soon as possible. If you know you can’t make it, or you’re just unsure at the moment, send the host a message letting them know that. Make sure you give them a date they can expect a definite answer on.

When someone hosts a dinner party there’s time and money invested. Knowing who’s on the guest list in advance tells the host what they need to buy and how they will accommodate everyone attending.

2. Arrive on time

This is the most respectable thing to do. The host may only have a certain amount of time planned for each event. If you get there after the food was served but you’re still trying to eat. You will be that guy or girl unraveling food that was already put away. It’s embarrassing, rude, and it makes people not want to invite you to things again. There are exceptions to this rule but generally, you want to play it safe and get there on time.

Another tip on time is not to arrive too early – ten minutes should be the earliest. Most hosts use the last hour before the event to apply the finishing touches. Arriving too early could add more pressure on them when they’re already pressured to finish setting up for the event.

3. Bring a gift for the host

Never arrive at a dinner party empty-handed even if they ask you not to bring anything. This is especially important if you’re going to someone’s home for the first time. If you’re not pitching in by cooking or bringing food, make sure you bring something that shows your appreciation. Yes, they invited you but remember they’ve cleaned their home, cooked the meal, decorated, planned and coordinated everything – that’s a lot of work. It’s only right to get them a little something.

What should you bring?

Consider bringing: a beautiful boutique of roses, peonies, or hydrangeas  (those are my top three choices for flowers but it really doesn’t matter what kind), a candle, a coffee mug, or a bottle of wine if they drink alcohol.

4. Don’t start eating until the host says so or gives direct signals

The proper thing to do after you’ve gotten your food is to wait until the host verbally says you can start eating or when you see them eating. Sometimes the host will want to pray over the food or do a toast before everyone digs in.

For example, in my family, every Thanksgiving before we eat my entire family will stand in one giant circle around the table holding hands while one person prays over the food. Then we go around the room saying what we’re thankful for. We do this every year before we eat.

5. Put your phone away

One of the classiest things you can do at any event, and especially a dinner party, is to put your phone away. Leave it in your purse in the coat closet on silent. So many people disregard this etiquette rule and it comes across as disrespectful.

Remember, you were invited to share a meal and fellowship with real people. Be there with them living in the moment. Make memories without your phone and social media distracting you.

6. Don’t stay past your welcome

If the invitation says from six to nine, try to honor that by packing up at nine. Unless the host says you’re welcome to stick around, try to make a prompt exit.

If you’re confused and wondering if you should leave, pay attention to the number of people still there, and if the music has stopped. Sometimes they’ll even say, it’s getting late I’m so tired, or if you find yourself being in the way of clean up. These are all signs that it’s time for you to go.

7. Don’t ask for leftovers

This one tickles me. If you notice that there’s food left over after everyone has eaten don’t assume it’s up for grabs. Some people consider asking for leftovers very rude. Unless they make an announcement urging people to take food don’t do it and don’t ask.

8. Send a handwritten thank you note

This is an oldie but a classic etiquette rule. A day after the party you should send a handwritten thank you note to the host. This puts the icing on the cake and is one of the most effective ways to show your appreciation and thoughtfulness.

So those are all of my etiquette tips for the day. I hope you guys enjoyed this post and found it useful. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more in the etiquette series here on my blog. Please leave a comment below letting me know your thoughts on etiquette. – Alex



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17 thoughts on “Modern Day Etiquette Tips Pt. 1 – 7 Things You Must do as a Dinner Party Guest

    1. Hey Cameron! Thank you. My family is okay with to go plates too. I thought everyone was until one day I went to a friends house and her parents insisted that I finish my food there. Lol. They taught me that day and I was so embarrassed.

  1. I love the topic. Putting the phone away is a must! I love how you mentioned taking home a plate. I have a friend who is famous for doing that and sometimes it’s before the party is over. I hate that! Great post, keep them coming!

  2. These are all wonderful tips. I definitely agree with putting your phone away, it drives me nuts to be around people who CANNOT put down their phones. Ugh. I also am always so pleasantly surprised when a guest brings flowers/a gift/wine. I always remember the polite gesture!

  3. I love how detailed you were with this post! I’ve never been to a dinner party but now I realized that I would have absolutely no clue what to do if I went haha. This was super helpful!

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