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On Being a Good Guest
Getting together with friends and co-workers can be very enjoyable; however, when the person who has invited you to their home is someone you only know casually it can be stressful.
Recently we were invited over for cocktails and a light meal by a person my wife does some work with. They see each other about once a month for an hour or so.
The person who extended the invitation wanted to bring several people who did not know each other or only knew one another very slightly together simply so we would have a chance to chat and get to know one another better.
A fine idea but one that can make people nervous; for some, meeting new people can be difficult and doing so in the home of someone you have not meet can be even more so.
There are a few basic guidelines than when followed will turn this possibly awkward and defiantly nervous event into a pleasurable evening, on that has the potential to establish long term relationships.
The first guideline is be on time, if the invitation is for eight pm that is when you arrive. Do not be early; when you arrive early, you force the hostess to perform her duties before she had planned to do so. There may still be a few last minute preparations to take care of and now there is you to deal with; this can be especially awkward if you do not know each other.
A tip, I bring my best slippers as I have no intention of walking around with just my socks on, and removing your shoes is often required and wise.
If you know you will be late call the host and let them know you are running late and advise them when you will arrive, then arrive on time.
Secondly, it is acceptable to bring a gift; but if the host or hostess is someone you know only slightly, give this some thought. Let the gift match the event. Unless it is a potluck you do not need to bring food; however, you could bring some homemade cookies or pick up candy.
Flowers or wine are not a good idea. You do not know what is being served so your wine choice may not complement the meal, nor do you know the décor, so the flowers may clash or look wrong.
If you do bring cookies or candy do not expect them to be served at the gathering, they are a gift.
The gifts I prefer to bring are fresh herbs from my herb garden, but, generally, when I am invited I feel the best gift for the people hosting the event, is for me to be a good guest.
This means listening to what people say and not being forceful with my opinions, it is not a soap box but a party, relax. If you do not like the people or enjoy the talk, you do not have to do it again, so remain calm and polite.
Pay attention to clues, if the host or hostess is getting restless glancing at a clock or watch, for example, it is likely time to leave, We usually determine how lone we will stay before arriving, two to three hours, at the most, for dinner, for example.