How to be a great dinner guest

Feb 22, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. ET

There's so much information out there on having dinner parties and being a great host, but what about proper guest etiquette? Let's not forget that a big part of hosting a dinner party is who you invite!

Guests arriving at dinner party

If a friend or family member invites you over for dinner, there are certain rules that need to be followed.

Remember, this person took the time to invite you, plan a meal, clean their house, pay for food and get everything set up. Planning a dinner party is no easy feat — and in fact can be rather stressful. Make sure to go out of your way to show the host you appreciate their generosity with a few simple tips that will keep the host inviting you back for more.

Offer to help in any way possible

Within two days of receiving the invite, call the host and ask if there's anything you can do to help. Some ideas include:

  • Bring dessert
  • Arrive early to help set up
  • Make an appetizer
  • Bring games to play afterward

There's a good chance the host won't take you up on your offer, but the fact that you did offer will help relieve stress and make the planning process more fun. If the host insists they're fine and don't need any help, bring over their favorite bottle of wine as a way of saying "thanks!"

Arrive on time

Always, always, always make sure you arrive on time. The host prepared and cooked dinner, so if it's ready to be served at 7 p.m., you better have arrived by 7 p.m. at the absolute latest. Make it a priority!! After all, you would have wanted your guests to do the same thing if you were the one hosting. Also, don't think it's OK to invite anyone else — whether in advance or last-minute. Only bring a date or friend if they were invited by the host, as well.

Come hungry

Tip: If you have food allergies or really cannot eat a certain food, let the host know in advance. They won't mind so long as they know ahead of time.

We suggest eating an early lunch so you're nice and hungry for dinner. You don't need to eat all the food or go back for thirds, but at least let the host know they did a great job of cooking a fantastic meal. If you're a picky eater, commit to sampling everything and taking larger portions of the items you like. With so many individuals eating low-fat, gluten-free, nondairy and the list goes on, it can be impossible to plan a meal that everyone loves.

Have fun

Put your best foot forward and be social for the evening, even if you're normally a bit shy. It's OK to think of questions in advance to ask the group, such as their traveling plans for the year or if they've tried any new hot-spot restaurants recently. Avoid talking about work too much or topics that don't include everyone.

Send a thank you note

Finally, send a thank you note to the host a few days following the dinner. There's nothing like feeling appreciated after you've put hard work into something. Remember, if you offer your help and show gratitude toward the host, he/she will more than likely want to throw another dinner party in the near future — and you will be first person on the guest list!

Tell us

What are your best tips for being a great dinner guest? Share in the comments below!

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