I thought about holding this entry for a later date – this being my second post and all, and I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me. But, here goes.
I have a lengthy and informal list of rules about what it takes to be a good guest in someone else’s home. I picked up these rules along the way – from Dear Ann Landers columns, etiquette books, watching movies, advice from my Mom, and most importantly from my own experiences both as a host and a guest. Certainly good manners are an important aspect of our lives – they are what separate us from the animals, in addition to our opposable thumbs and war.
The first lesson in being a good guest came when I was a little girl, and I was taught that if a food is passed to you that you do not like, take a little, put it on your plate, and try it anyway. Don’t exclaim, “I don’t like that !” In a proper raising, simple manners can became second nature - Put your napkin in your lap. Ask to be excused from the table. Thank the hostess before you leave. That sounds easy enough, right?
Let us move on to “good manners as a guest 201” – the adult class. I think there are five very easy steps in being a great guest for a dinner party. Certainly there are more steps involved when you are invited to an overnight stay, and I will put together my rules for this situation at a later date. So someone invites you to their home for a dinner party, or Thanksgiving, or a bridal shower, or fill in the blank. Ready, set, GO:
1. Do not arrive early. The hostess is running around like a crazy person in the last ten minutes before the event, and the last thing she wants to see early is you. Please, unless there is a reason to be right on time (for example you are a guest at a surprise birthday party), be fashionably late by at least ten minutes.
2. Offer to help, but if help is refused do not insert yourself into the host’s kitchen and start asking where the clean glasses should go.
3. Make conversation with your fellow partygoers. I know that this is uncomfortable for some people, and here is my secret – keep the focus on the other person. People love to talk about themselves, they really do. Find the quietest person in the room and compliment something they are wearing – they will perk right up and you two will soon be off and engaged in lively chatter. The hostess will be grateful as she looks out and sees you doing your part – and she’ll say to herself something like this, “Thank goodness for Scout - she took an interest in poor cousin Charlie”.
4. Do not be the last person to leave. This lesson has been hard for me over the years, because I generally have such a great time at a party that I lose track of the TIME. The hostess WANTS you to leave eventually. Please don’t put off the inevitable. In my opinion, the best time to leave a party is when there are about four to six other guests leaving – you can say thanks and whisk right out the door. Safety in numbers.
5. For goodness sakes, please do not drink too much. This one is tricky, especially at a party when there is an abundance of alcohol. Set your mind before you get to the party that you will not over-serve yourself. Eat your food while engaging in great conversation with cousin Charlie, have a glass of water or two between drinks, and leave before things get ugly.
5a. If you do mess up on rule number 5, please be a happy drunk. Do not start crying about your job, your husband, your dead brother, or your lost dog – your makeup will run terribly and people won’t invite you back to their house in a very long time, if ever.
5b. Do not start rummaging through the hostess’ liquor cabinet looking for the bourbon. If you get to this point, you are obviously too drunk to know it, and bourbon is the last thing you need. Close the liquor cabinet door honey, thank the hostess for a lovely evening, grab your designated driver, and get the heck outta dodge. Pronto.
5c. If you still want that bourbon once arriving safely at your own home, here’s a great drink recipe!!
The Classic Manhattan
2 oz. Jim Beam
1 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters
2 to 3 maraschino cherries
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the liquid ingredients and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass and add the cherries.