by Laura House
Nice. You've snagged a generous invitation to a friend or colleague's holiday dinner. While this means you can take the night off from cooking and entertaining yourself, some effort is still required on your part. Overall, keep in mind that a little consideration goes a long way, and good guests (usually) get invited back. Here are a few golden guest rules to keep in mind.
Related: Gift Guide: 20 Ways To Splurge On Your Favorite Home Cook
Ask "What can I make or bring?"Don't just stand around drinking and flirting. Ask the host if they need a hand.
Offer to make or bring something in advance (not last minute) so your host can assign you a Brussels sprouts side or dessert task while he/she is still in the menu planning stage. As a host I prefer it when people ask me what they can make, rather than just showing up with a big dish of something that doesn't complement the planned menu.
Don't show up empty handed.
Even if your host insists that you shouldn't bring a thing, bring something. A couple of well-selected bottles of wine or an after-dinner liqueur are generally appreciated. If you are known for your homemade caramels, sourdough bread or pickled beets, then make your best batch for your host to enjoy later. Or, appeal to your host's interests with a token just for them like a terrarium, unique bar accessory or cool kitchen gadget.
Be on time.
Running 10 or 15 minutes behind is totally acceptable and something most people factor in. However, beyond that (without a good reason) comes off as very inconsiderate to your host, who has planned on having everyone seated and all dishes on the table at a certain time.
Dress up + unplug.
Unless you know this is going to be a casual kind of thing, gussy up a bit. And, when you do show up, turn off your phone and join the conversation with those you're in the same room with. Facebook can wait.
Make your own introductions.
If there are people you don't know there, be a grown-up and introduce yourself. Your host would probably do it if they weren't stuck in the kitchen.
Ask if you can help.
Always ask what you can do to help before and after dinner. Even if a host refuses, it's still nice to have the offer made.
Pop a thank you note in the mail, give a call or at the very least send an email thanking your hosts for including you. A little thanks goes a long way.
Read these entertaining tips from Food Republic:
Entertaining: Know Your Glassware
Entertaining: 5 Tips For Better Organization
The Holiday Party: What To Serve Or What To Bring
Killer Apps: Why You Should Be Serving Antipasto
by Laura House