Be Your Best, Guest: Holiday Etiquette
Last week we offered some useful ideas and resources for those hosting a holiday gathering. However, as Christmas approaches, it’s just as likely you will be a guest at someone’s home. Wherever you end up, here are some things to help guide you in your role of guest. Remember: a good guest always gets invited back.
Be a Mensch, Lend a Hand
In my experience, hosts are loath to ask their guests for assistance because, well, they’re guests. Save your host the trouble and distinguish yourself as a fantastic person to have at a party by preemptively lightening the load. In advance of the event, gracefully offer to tend bar, DJ, document the evening with your digital camera–whatever suits your fancy. But if the host declines the offer, don’t press. He/she knows how they want the party to go down, and you might just end up getting in the way of their plans.
Empty Hands = Bad Guest
You’ve been invited into someone’s home for a feast, one for which they’ve spent many hours—if not days—preparing. It should go without saying, but the least you can do is bring your host a token of your appreciation. However, choose your gift carefully. As Thomas P. Farley – author, founder of What Manners Most and, most recently, guest contributor to pingg – points out in The Hostess with the Mostest, not all gifts are created equal. Some are like shackles on a host’s tired feet. A good gift creates no work for the host, and expresses sincere thanks.
Wine is always a great way to go, but you shouldn’t expect your host to open a gift bottle of wine that evening. They might, but let them make that call. After all, it’s a gift, right? Still, choosing a wine causes much consternation for many. Don’t worry. Randy Fuller has written a comprehensive primer on choosing holiday wines to accompany just about any meal you’re likely to encounter. However, If you happen to know that wine is not quite the perfect gift, there are countless other ways to show your appreciation. Generally speaking, host gifts fall into one of two camps: consumables and non-consumables. I tend to favor the former, since someone else’s style is often quite difficult to pin down, and you don’t want to burden your host with something they may feel obliged to display the next time you’re invited. Gourmet coffees, teas, chocolates, and cookies are perennial favorites. For a convenient one-stop-shop for any of these, igourmet.com and The Nibble are hard to beat, but check out your local vendors also—you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.
If DIY is your thing and you’re not afraid of the kitchen, you could make your own gift-worthy preserves like raspberry-almond jam or sweet-hot honey mustard (particularly good with roasted meats). Baked goods will never steer you wrong either. Conveniently, and not surprisingly, Martha Stewart has assembled 50 stunning holiday-themed cookie ideas replete with recipes and packaging ideas.
Finally, top off your performance as the perfect guest by sending your host a stylish and elegant thank you ecard. Fortunately for you, pingg has a vast selection of ecards to choose from. With designs from artists like Jenean Morrison, Carlyle Chaudruc and Craig Kanarick, just to name a few, you’re sure to find something to suit even the most discerning host. By the way, try to send your thank you note as soon as possible after the event, like the following day. The longer you wait, the less thankful you will seem.