Monday, February 21, 2011

Are You A Gracious Guest?

In these terribly busy days that we live in, it seems it is becoming less and less of an occurrence to be invited over to someone's home for a simple relaxing dinner, or a celebration of some kind. More often it's: "meet us at the restaurant", isn't it? I believe partly because of its infrequency, some of the etiquette of being a gracious guest has been lost. - As someone who is more often a hostess than a guest, I can tell you from first hand experience that those guests that are kind and gracious stand out like shining stars in my memory! Want to be a blessing to your hostess next time you are lucky enough to receive an invitation? Here are a few "gracious guest" pointers:

*When you receive an invitation, respond promptly and using the method they request: i.e. if they put a phone number on the invitation, don't e-mail them. Or if they place an e-mail address on the invitation, don't RSVP when you see them at the store. Hostesses REALLY appreciate this!

*Arrive on time NOT early. There are a million things to do when you are the hostess right at the last minute, and running to answer the door should not be one of them. Your hostess will be ready for your arrival at the time that she asked you to arrive...but not before! Of course, arriving late is inconsiderate (but sometimes unavoidable) as well. If something detains you, call, apologize, and inform your hostess that you will be a few moments late.

*Always arrive with a small hostess/host gift. This can truly be anything: flowers, wine, a candle, a package of note cards, baked goods, etc.. This shows elementary good breeding and gratitude.

*Offer to remove your shoes. A hostess can always decline your offer, but you should always ask.

*Use your hostess as your cue: when to sit down, what to pass at the table, when to begin eating, etc.

*After your event, send a thank you note (yes, in the mail) within a week of being entertained.- A gracious guest, is a grateful guest!

So, that is my advice to you - now I need your advice on an issue I've been on the fence about for some time.- When someone invites you to their home for dinner, but doesn't specify that you need to bring anything on the invitation, are you required to ask if you can bring something? I personally really appreciate when the host provides the full meal and let her guests truly be guests, but at the same time, I don't want them to think I'm rude for not asking to contribute. I love to cook, don't get me wrong, but I also love to have a night off! - When I host large and/or informal parties I'll sometimes specify on the invitation to bring a finger food to share (or something to that effect), and in the past, when people have offered to bring something, I've come up with something for them to bring so they can "feel a part of things"...but now I think I've changed my mind, and I truly want my guests to look forward to coming over with no obligations other than to relax and enjoy themselves.- Your thoughts on the matter?