'tis the season and all that.
regardless of whether like me, you unexpectedly find yourself somewhat of a social leper this festive season without many engagements in your calendar, or on the other hand your PA is having difficulty keeping up with your status of that of social
climber butterfly, we could all do with some tips to remind us how to be the perfect party guest. This is especially important if, like my boss at the recent office christmas party, you're prone to common behaviour such as loudly announcing from the outset of the evening that you won't be having dinner but will instead be 'getting smashed' which ends in several employees getting inappropriate hugs goodbye at the end of the night.
The following has been lifted from the Schewppes website and has timeless party advice for guests all year round. If applicable, I've added my own comments in blue.
We all know there's such a thing as arriving 'fashionably late', but this doesn't mean an hour after the party starts. 10 minutes after the scheduled time is considered good arrival etiquette. You could reasonably stretch this to 20 minutes maximum but only if the host is a good friend - and be sure to call as a courtesy to advise of your tardiness.
Think then drink
Sipping white wine or bubbles? Hold the stem of your glass between thumb and index fingers to ensure that it stays beautifully chilled. Ideally, a cold, wet drink should never be held for more than the time it takes to have a quick sip. Red wine or brandy can be gripped by the bowl, so your body heat keeps it at the perfect temperature. If you're a beer boozer, don't swig from a bottle or can – use a glass. Do not, under any circumstances, add ice cubes to unchilled white wine or sparkling. This is a crime against booze.
Try to mingle as much as possible — you might meet a potential date, friend or business associate! Use eye contact, open body language and avoid gossiping or discussing controversial topics like politics and religion. Well that's no fun! Gossiping and discussing contoversial topics are the two things I do best. The key here is to be selective about whom you discuss these issues with. If you find yourself in a position where
you want to punch someone in the face a drunken ignoramus of a stranger is making inappropriate comments, simply excuse yourself at the earliest opportunity citing an empty glass/full bladder/lack of physical restraint when trapped in a conversation monopolised by an uninformed moron.
Never overfill your plate — it's better to take hamster helpings and go back for seconds than to start out with a mountain of greedy grub. If you can, eat something beforehand to avoid overeating and appearing gluttonous. This will also help soak up the booze.
ALWAYS respond to cocktail party invitations. Promptly! When an invitation is sent, it is very impolite to ignore it. RSVP cards and envelopes should be included by your host but if not, give them a courtesy call to let them know that you'd be delighted to attend their little shindig. Structure the formality of your reply according to the formality of the invitation. If you're in a situation where you find it necessary to bring a plus one, always call the host to check if this is acceptable. Depending on the nature of the event and your relationship with the host more may be merrier, but it's not always good manners.
Careful where you leave things while socialising. A clutch dumped in the centre of the room is sure to cause some trippage, while a drink placed clumsily on a mahogany end table without a coaster is sure to cause some drippage. And obviously, don't leave valuables within easy reach if you're at a party full of strangers.
Cocktail parties are usually semi-formal — think cute heels, a slinky black dress and sleek tresses. Remember comfort though, as you may be on your feet for a lot of the night. It's always better to be overdressed than underdresed. Pack a pair of roll-up flats or flip flops in your handbag to slip on for the trip home. Your feet will thank you.
Why not offer to bring a bottle of vino or platter of canapes? If the host refuses your contribution offer, you could always get them a box of chocolates. Always offer to bring something. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy. If all else fails, a lovely bunch of flowers is always appreciated.
When accepting canapes at a cocktail party, hold a napkin between the ring and baby finger of your left hand and spread the ring and middle fingers to act as a base for a plate. Use your right hand to serve yourself with drinks and nibbles.