We’ve all been there. Your host generously instructs you not to bring a thing, and you spend the following week carefully considering what might be an apt accompaniment. Or maybe the invitation’s “7.30 for 8” arrival time leaves you pondering over what time you should actually arrive.
These are questions many people ask themselves. Fortunately for you, we’ve compiled a handy guide to help you be the perfect dinner guest.
Accepting the invitation
It should go without saying that you should reply to the invitation promptly, mentioning any allergies you may have. Sure, the host may have to alter their plans slightly, but they’d rather that than watch you manoeuvre their carefully constructed entrée around your plate.
As tempting as it is to hold out on the RSVP in case a better offer arises, this is considered rude. Make a decision and stick to it.
Offer to bring something
More often than not, the host will reply with a jocular “just bring yourselves” when asked what you can bring to the dinner party. Nonetheless, the perfect dinner guest will always bring something as a token of appreciation, whether it’s a bottle of fine wine, or even some chocolate if the host is a non-drinker.
Arrive on time
You should always arrive within 15 minutes of the time stated on the invitation – but never early. No host wants to be interrupted by the doorbell during that frantic final hour of table dressing and surreptitiously attempting to stick the pastry back together.
Contribute to the conversation
This should really be standard practice, but it’s essential to be both interesting and interested at the table. No one likes a guest who only talks about themselves, and those who remain in the background without really contributing to the discussion can count themselves lucky if they receive a second invitation.
Acknowledge the food
It may seem insignificant, but a simple acknowledgement of the taste and quality of the food goes a very long way. Hosts put a lot of effort into preparing a meal for their guests, including planning, preparation, cooking, and actually hosting the event. Preparing a meal for friends is an enjoyable experience, but it’s always nice to know that the hard work is truly appreciated.
Lend a helping hand
You’re not at a restaurant, so don’t be afraid to offer a helping hand. The host may well be more than happy to take care of things alone, but an offer to help clearing the table or filling up wine glasses will always be appreciated.
Don’t overstay your welcome
A good guest should never outstay their welcome. Keep an eye out for clues that it might be time to leave. The serving of tea or coffee is often a useful indicator. If you catch your host glancing at their watch or yawning, you’ve probably stayed too long.