8 Etiquette Rules For When You're A Guest

by Carina Wolff

Most of us grew up going to birthday parties and family dinners, so we're used to be being guests in other people's homes. But it's not all the time that we think about how to behave when we arrive at a someone's house, and there may be some etiquette rules you're forgetting as a guest at a gathering. It can be helpful to be reminded of what's considered polite and what's a big no-no, as you may not even realize some of the mistakes you're making as a guest. Fixing your behavior can help improve your relationships with others — and maybe even get you a few more invitations to some special events.

"Whether you are close friend or family, it's your job as a visiting friend or family member to make your host — even if it's your mother — glad you are there," says etiquette expert Diane Gottsman over email. "Behaving as a good guest shows your host that you are grateful for their invitation. It also shows you respect their home and their personal property."

You might think you know it all when it comes to proper party manners, but here are eight often-forgotten etiquette rules for when you're a guest at someone's gathering.




Formal RSVPs might seem like a thing of the past, but just because you might be doing it over email or text doesn't mean you are allowed to skip it altogether. "Even if no RSVP is requested, do it anyway," says etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer over email.


Bring Something


It's never a good idea to show up empty-handed, no matter how close you are to the guest — and it doesn't have to be anything expensive. "You should arrive with gifts for your host," says etiquette expert Jodi RR Smith over email. "Some typical hospitality gifts include flowers, wine, chocolates, homemade treats, and more."


Help Around The House


It can never hurt to help out. "Make yourself useful by helping around the house, clear dishes, load the dishwasher, etc.," says Smith. Don't linger in the way, but always offer to lend a helping hand, especially when it comes to clean up.


Ask Before Using Their Belongings


It's easy to feel comfortable somewhere, but it's always nice to ask before touching their stuff. "Being a guest in someone's home does not automatically grant you access to anything in the closet, cupboards and cabinets," says Smith. "Be sure to ask first if you need or wish to use something belonging to your host."


Ask Before Bringing A Guest


Some parties are super casual, but it's always polite to ask about bringing guests. "Don’t show up unannounced or with the unexpected," says Schweitzer. "Bringing an extra guest is beyond inconsiderate and is rude to the host who has made special plans."


Don't Ask For Something Not Set On The Table


"If anything is not set on the table such as salt-and-pepper or ketchup, avoid asking the host," says Gottsman. "It means they think you can do without it."


Mingle With People You Don't Know


It can be hard to break the ice and talk to new people, but it's important not to be cliquey at a gathering. "Mix and mingle with people you don't know," says Gottman. "Nothing is worse for a host than watching their guests conversing in little cliques and not including other people."


Thank Your Host Before You Leave


"Find and thank your host or hostess for the gathering," says Schweitzer. "Mention a specific aspect that you particularly enjoyed such as the cuisine. Or the live band on the lawn playing your favorite tunes. Be authentic in your praise and depart on a high note."