Parties are a great opportunity to meet new people, reconnect with those you haven’t seen in a while, and generally have a good time socializing. 

In any type of event, whether it’s an engagement party, birthday party, workplace party, etc., practicing proper party etiquette makes it fun for everyone. 

Here are some etiquette expert tips for proper etiquette at a party for both guests and hosts.

In this article:

Party etiquette for guests

As a good guest, it’s important to keep in mind certain etiquette guidelines to ensure that you make a positive impression and contribute to the success of the event. In this section, we will provide you with 12 tips on how to be a gracious and thoughtful guest.


RSVP stands for Répondez s’il vous plaît, which is French for “to respond to an invitation”. Inform your host of your attendance status to avoid hindering their planning or giving the impression of waiting for a better invitation. Even if an RSVP has not been requested, it’s considerate to express gratitude for the invitation and indicate whether you will be attending or not.

2. Dress code

As a party guest, you should dress appropriately regardless of the type of occasion. If it’s a formal occasion, a dress or tuxedo is ideal while for casual events, almost anything goes. If you are not sure about the dress to wear, ask your host in advance.

3. Snack before you go

Showing up to a party on an empty stomach can leave you feeling hangry and make it difficult to enjoy the festivities. Waiting around for food to arrive can be frustrating, especially if it’s served late after everyone has already arrived and socialized. Drinking on an empty stomach is not a good idea, so it’s essential to plan accordingly and avoid showing up to the party hungry.

4. Be on time

Arriving on time is important, but it’s important to note that punctuality can vary depending on the cultural norms of the region. In general, it’s recommended that guests arrive at or shortly after the time stated on the invitation, preferably within fifteen minutes. However, arriving early should be avoided, and if you anticipate being significantly late, it’s best to inform your host of your estimated time of arrival to prevent them from worrying.

5. Do not bring along uninvited individuals

It’s inconsiderate to bring along uninvited guests in tow. For this reason, make sure that you bring another guest with you only when the invitation requests to do so.

If you’ve been granted permission to bring a guest to a professional event, it’s crucial to select someone who can maintain a professional demeanor. Your guest should avoid excessive drinking, flirting with coworkers, discussing controversial topics, or monopolizing the buffet table. Remember that your guest’s conduct reflects on you, so it’s important to ensure they can present themselves appropriately or consider attending the event alone.

6. Participate

Be an active and engaged participant in the event. When your host directs you to dinner, go directly to the table, and be gracious and enthusiastic when participating in activities such as party games or looking at photographs.

While it’s true that some individuals are naturally shy and introverted, it’s important to make an effort to socialize at an office party. When arriving, it’s a good idea to start greeting people as they usually keep an eye on the door to see who’s coming in. It’s best to avoid choosing a corner to stand in until it’s time to leave unnoticed. Additionally, refrain from constantly looking down at your phone as it can discourage others from approaching you.

7. Hold your drink in your left hand

To prevent overindulging in alcohol at a professional gathering, it can be helpful to sip your drink slowly. Nonetheless, holding a drink for an extended period can result in damp and sticky hands, leading to an unpleasant handshake experience. Additionally, constantly switching your drink from one hand to the other can be cumbersome. A practical solution to avoid this is to hold your beverage in your left hand, allowing your right hand to remain free for socializing without any interruptions.

8. Keep your conversation light

Conversations during the party should be casual and light. Avoid serious politics, religion and health issues in detail. Also, don’t gossip about others, especially if it is about someone who’s at the party.

When attending a corporate event, it can be challenging to keep the conversations going, especially when you’re in a different setting with your colleagues. However, it’s crucial to avoid sensitive topics, such as politics and religion, and stay away from discussing work-related matters. One way to start a conversation is by asking about people’s interests, such as their favorite movies, books, or cuisines. It’s an excellent opportunity to get to know your colleagues better and find common ground outside of work.

9. Offer help

Offer assistance when you can. If you’re visiting with the host in the kitchen, specify what you’re able to help with, such as preparing the salad or filling water glasses. Even if your offer is declined, it’s a thoughtful gesture. Additionally, offering to assist with cleanup as the event draws to a close is appreciated.

10. Don’t overdo it

Avoid overindulging in food or drink. Eating finger foods excessively or consuming too much alcohol will not only draw negative attention but also deprive other guests of food or beverages. It’s best to exercise moderation.

11. Gauge the exit

When the invitation lists a specific end time for the party, don’t linger around much longer than that time. When there is no time indicated on the invitation, check the other party guests and when almost half of them are gone, be ready to leave also.

12. Say thanks

Express gratitude to your host twice. When departing, express appreciation to your host, and consider following up with a phone call the day after the event. If the event was formal or held in your honor, a written note is appropriate, but even casual parties may warrant a written thank-you note.

Party etiquette for hosts

As a host, it is your responsibility to make sure your guests feel welcome and comfortable, and that the event runs smoothly. To help you navigate the ins and outs of hosting a successful party, we’ve compiled a list of 13 party etiquette tips for hosts.

1. Write clear invitations

Ensure to provide all necessary information for your guests in the invitation, including the date, start time and end time, location, occasion, host(s), and instructions for RSVPing. It’s also helpful to include any additional details, such as dress code or items to bring for a potluck.

2. Consider your guest list

When planning the event, carefully consider the guest list to ensure a great group of people, and prepare everything ahead of time so that you can greet guests feeling relaxed and prepared.

3. Help and let enjoy

As the host, it’s essential to be welcoming and attentive throughout the party, ensuring guests feel comfortable and included. Be mindful of guests’ needs, such as refilling their drinks or introducing them to other attendees.

Among the least appreciated host behaviors are those stemming from anxiety, such as excessive apologies, attempting to clean up while guests are still present, or being overly accommodating. While hosts should be attentive and considerate, it’s important to strike a balance and avoid being overbearing.

4. Waiting too long to serve food

Guests may arrive hungry or thirsty, and if they are left waiting for an extended period of time, they may become impatient or even irritable. This can set a negative tone for the entire event and make guests feel unwelcome or unimportant. 

In addition, guests may begin to feel uncomfortable or restless if they are forced to wait for extended periods of time, which can lead to them leaving early or having a less enjoyable experience overall. Therefore, it is important for hosts to plan ahead and ensure that food and drinks are served promptly to keep guests happy and satisfied.

5. Offer gluten-free or dairy-free options

While it may not be possible to accommodate every single dietary need, it’s important to consider the needs of your guests and provide options that work for them. By doing so, you show that you care about their well-being and are willing to go the extra mile to make them feel included in the festivities. 

6. Offer an alternative to alcohol

It’s important to remember that not everybody drinks alcohol, and therefore, it’s recommended to provide an equally enjoyable non-alcoholic option alongside any specialty cocktails. This allows guests to help themselves without feeling the need to make a special request. Additionally, if you are serving alcoholic punch or a big-batch cocktail, it’s essential to label it accordingly to ensure that guests are aware.

7. Provide bowls for pits, tails and shells

To avoid the awkwardness of guests holding onto food waste without any place to dispose of it, it’s essential to provide small bowls near the food. As a host, you can set an example by disposing of waste first. If you’re a guest, try to locate a designated area to dispose of your waste before you start eating.

8. Assign seats at a large dinner

For larger events, determining where to sit at a lengthy table can be intimidating, so assigning seats can help guests feel more comfortable. To create a more energetic atmosphere, consider separating couples and seating reserved guests next to more outgoing ones.

9. Keep the bathroom well stocked

Running out of toilet paper at a party can be an embarrassing and uncomfortable situation. To avoid this scenario, it’s essential to ensure that your bathroom is well-stocked with toilet paper, soap, and hand towels before your guests arrive. Additionally, consider putting a plunger, a scented candle, and matches in the bathroom to avoid any potential mishaps.

10. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Be flexible and gracious when unexpected situations arise, such as a ruined dish or an uninvited guest. It’s important to have a backup plan and to handle any issues with kindness and hospitality.

11. Pick a theme and song list

Having a theme and a song list can greatly contribute to the success of a party. A theme can set the tone and atmosphere for the event, making it more memorable and enjoyable for guests. It can also make party planning easier by providing a framework for decoration, food, and drinks. 

Additionally, having a well-curated song list can keep the energy of the party up and help create a fun and engaging environment. Music can serve as a conversation starter and can even bring people together on the dance floor. Overall, a thoughtful theme and carefully selected music can elevate a party from good to great and leave a lasting impression on guests.

12. Be a guide

Take charge of the event, guiding guests through each stage of the party, from serving dinner to starting games or activities. Mingle with each group, making introductions and facilitating the conversation.

13. Thank your guests

Finally, thank your guests for attending, thanking them individually as they depart. If anyone brings a gift, make sure to thank them as well.

Frequently asked questions

Parties are a time for celebration and socializing, but they can also come with a set of etiquette rules and expectations. To help you navigate these situations, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions about party etiquette.

How should I address the host when attending a party?

When addressing the host, it is important to use the appropriate title, such as “Mr.,” “Mrs.,” or “Ms.,” followed by their last name. It is also important to thank them for inviting you and express your appreciation for their hospitality.

What is the best way to introduce yourself to other guests at a party?

The best way to introduce yourself is to be friendly, confident, and engaging. Make eye contact with the person you’re talking to and introduce yourself with your name, profession, and any mutual interests or connections that you may have. Be sure to ask questions about the other person so they feel heard and appreciated.

Is it appropriate to bring a gift to a party?

Gift-giving is a great way to show appreciation and gratitude to the host for organizing the event. However, it is important to consider the appropriateness of the gift before bringing it to the party. It should be thoughtful and meaningful without being too expensive or over-the-top. The gift should also reflect your relationship with the host and should be something they will appreciate and enjoy. A generic gift might include a bottle of wine or a bouquet of seasonal flowers.

What should I do if I feel uncomfortable at a party?

It is important to remember that you are not alone and that there are steps you can take to make yourself feel more comfortable. Whether it’s leaving the party, talking to someone you trust, or simply taking a few moments, there are ways to manage your feelings and ensure you have an enjoyable evening.

Is it okay to take pictures or videos during a party?

It’s essential to get permission before taking any photos or videos, as someone might feel violated or uncomfortable if they weren’t aware that their image was being used. Asking for permission beforehand is the proper way to ensure everyone involved respects each other’s privacy. Also, it is always prudent to consider the context and atmosphere where photographs or videos are taken. For example, some people may not be comfortable having their photographs taken in more personal settings like a private gathering.

Funny etiquette mistakes

Unfortunately, even the most well-intentioned individuals can make etiquette mistakes that can be embarrassing or even offensive to those around them. Here’s a short 4-minute CityTV show featuring some of those etiquette mistakes.