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5 Ways to be the best holiday guest ever

Trisha Antonsen

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With our social calendars filling up with parties, happy hours and festive dinners, it’s a good time for a quick refresher in party guest etiquette. Remember these quick tips and you’ll be sure to get invited back next year.


I am so guilty of this. I get an invite and am so excited that I’ve already begun planning and arranging my schedule to attend. Minor detail: I forgot to RSVP. It’s not the end of the world, but when it comes time for the host to plan a menu and know how much nog to buy, it’s helpful to have accurate numbers.

Don’t arrive empty handed

It’s just weird. We’re all adults here, and everyone has a few bucks they can pull together to bring a little something. Remember throwing a party is expensive, so bringing a little something with you, whether it’s food, wine or a small gift, is always appreciated. Here are a few quick ideas I pulled together to make you look like a party rock star.

  • Bring a bottle of wine with a wine cork gift tag. During the holidays, my go-to gift bottles are sparkling wine or red wine. Find a couple of wine corks and poke a hole through the top with a nail. Sign “To” and “From” on the corks with a sharpie, then string it onto a ribbon and tie it around the neck of the bottle. If you’re feeling crafty, there’s plenty of inspiration out there.
  • Bring a six-pack. If you know your host enjoys beer, grab her favorite kind or look for a festive winter brew. Dress up the box with store-bought adhesive bows all along one side of the six-pack — it’s quirky and fun and shows you spent the time to make it look nice.
  • Bring a cocktail and deliver the holiday spirit — literally. It can be tough to arrive with a bottle of liquor because who knows if the host has what’s needed to make a cocktail. Go the extra step and bring the ingredients with you. My go-to crowd-pleaser? Gin and tonic with bitters and lime. It’s a little fancier than the classic gin and tonic, with the bitters adding another flavor element.

Fancy gin and tonic recipe


  • 1-1/2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Tonic water


  1. In a tall glass filled with ice, combine the gin, lime juice and bitters.
  2. Top it off with tonic water and give it a gentle stir with a straw before enjoying.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Fashionably late?

Let’s review what this actually means: It’s acceptable to arrive up to 20 minutes after the party’s start time. Thirty minutes or more, and now you’re just late — don’t be that person. And unless you’ve already spoken with the host beforehand, certainly don’t show up early. That can throw off the host’s schedule and prep completely.

Offer to help

Sometimes the host of the party is running around throughout the event and barely has time to enjoy herself. By offering to help, whether it’s pouring drinks or disc jockeying some tunes, the host might actually be able to relax and join the party.

Send thanks

Before you leave, obviously thank your hosts for their hospitality. If you want to take it a step further, drop a note in the mail. Not that kind of person? I totally get it. How about texting or emailing — Emily Post cover your ears — a funny pic from the party the next day with a short message? It’s quick and easy, and I can guarantee any host will love it.

Here’s to a happy and fun holiday season with friends, family and loved ones.

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