Many of us will attend a variety of parties and get-togethers this holiday season. Some will be casual and low key; some will be formal and require a little more restraint. Either way, we could all use a brushup on some basic rules of etiquette. Some of these will serve as good reminders, but others may surprise you!
1. First and foremost, RSVP etiquette is still very important. Nothing is worse for a host than having guests who decline an invite show up at the last minute OR having guests accept the invitation yet fail to come to the event. Not only is it important to inform the host of your plans, but it is also important to stick to your word.
2. Get a sense of formality beforehand. Most invitations will provide the suggested attire. You don't want to be wearing an elf sweater and earrings with blinking Rudolph noses when everyone else is in sleek suits and long black dresses, or vice versa.
3. There is no right way to “double-dip.” Ok, so we’ve all tried to justify double-dipping by turning the fruit or veggie piece to an unbitten side and scooping it back down into the sauce. Unfortunately, it's inappropriate (and unhealthy) to put food you've nibbled on back into a communal sauce. The correct approach is to spoon some sauce onto your own plate, and then dunk as many times as you'd like.
4. When you're served a cocktail in fine crystal, the thin plastic straw should be used as a stirrer. But if you're in a bar or pub, it's okay to use a straw for sipping as long as it's not too awkward to handle.
5. It almost seems like you need to be a professional juggler to eat or drink and mingle at a party! Aside from growing a third hand, one good tip is to keep drinks or small plates of food in the left hand. That way the right hand is free for greeting people, and the person won’t get a cold, wet handshake (or a dirty one either).
6. Be prepared for small talk. Ideally, you should have several topics, questions or comments in mind when you arrive at a party. Also, make an effort to strike up conversations with people you don't know.
7. For a sit-down dinner, the host or hostess typically serves the meat, and the side dishes are passed to the right (counterclockwise) with each dinner guest helping himself. This helps maintain a sense of order at the table while all the dishes are being served. Exception to this rule: If someone sitting to your immediate left requests a second helping of potatoes, don't send the dish all the way around the table. It's perfectly fine to directly pass the dish to the left.
8. Lastly, be sure to thank those who coordinated the event. Yes, it’s fun to have a party, but it also takes a great deal of effort making sure guests have a good time. Not only is saying thank you the nice thing to do, but it also makes you stand out from those who don't.
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This advice is not intended or written to be used for, and it cannot be used for, the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties that may be imposed, or for promoting, marketing or recommending to another person, any tax related matter.