Our Top Guesting Guidelines

Have you ever hosted and felt a little cringy about a guest? Just recently I watched a reality show and got that terrible cringy feeling just from observing a terrible guest.

(No judgement — yes, there is one reality show that takes me away to warm places and I do look forward to watching it once a week. I need some form of Vitamin D living here in the Midwest.).

So, this woman/friend was invited to an engagement party and showed up in all white. As you might imagine, it didn’t go over so well with the hostess / bride-to-be. From how the show was edited, we saw the hostess / bride-to-be handle the onsite interaction quite gracefully and then share her real feelings later in the confessional.

It really does make for great TV to hear what they really think.

I’m not going to launch into an etiquette lesson here, even though I do love hearing all perspectives on social faux pas. But I do want to dig into a few Guesting Guidelines that might help you when you are the guest and not the host. Because even if you are the ultimate host, you’ll be forgiven for being a little rusty as a guest.

1. Reply with Enthusiasm — When you get the invite, whether it’s in a text message, e-vite, email, or — imagine this — a phone call or mailed invitation, please respond quickly and efficiently. Don’t go into all of the details about checking calendars, getting a sitter, or how you “really hope to squeeze this in.” Just reply quickly and kindly with a: “Fantastic! We’ll be there. Can’t wait.” Or, alternately, “I’m on a mission to sort through my calendar and get back to you either way in 24 hours.” And then… actually get back to them.

2. Always Inform — Almost everyone has at least one dietary concern, is following a specific diet, or is eliminating something from their diet. If (and only if) you cannot take a break for a single meal or cocktail hour, please do not burden your host with a laundry list of ifs, ands, or buts. Simply kindly explain that you are following a certain regimen and if it’s too complicated to find an alternative option would it be okay to bring your own substitution so that you can still come and enjoy the company of others. And, if it’s too complicated and you won’t enjoy yourself — please, pass on the invite. Take a raincheck.

3. To Gift Or Not To Gift — I was raised in the South and was taught to never show up empty-handed. We all know exactly how much work goes into hosting and it’s always nice to receive a small token of appreciation. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant — one of the best hosting gifts I ever received was a set of white dripless dinner candles. It was the one item I forgot during my preparation for the event and when that guest showed up with those candles, I was so grateful I could complete my table that night.

However, there are some gifts that are a little cringy. Here are my top three:

Homemade Food. Regardless of the thought, the time, and the blood, sweat and tears you put into it — it is not acceptable to show up with food. That is, unless the host specifically asked for everyone to bring a dish or a supporting element. Most likely, the host has a plan in mind and when you show up with a random item, they will have to worry about fitting in your homemade creation into a menu that they worked so hard to create. Remember, it’s not your time to shine — it’s the host’s moment in the spotlight.

Paper Goods. Y’all are gonna send me some messages about this one, I bet. I know — who doesn’t like a set of fun cocktail napkins? Me. I don’t. I have my own style and unless they are personal to me or an inside joke between us friends, please don’t bring any more paper napkins.

Kids. Okay, perhaps not a gift per se, but hear me out. I never thought that a dinner party invite for Steak & Wine meant that the little people might show up. Unless the invitation says: “Family Fun for All” or “Bring the Kids” do not assume this means the event is a free-for-all. Hire the darn sitter or ask a family member to give you a night out with the adults!

That’s a wrap on this edition of Hosting Insights. Now get your guesting act together and Live Bright, y’all!


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