Etiquette tips for being a good holiday party host, guest

Rachelle Logan with R U Ready School of Etiquette and Media Training joined us to talk party etiquette.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QC Life) - Over the next couple of weeks, many of you may be hosting holiday parties or going to a party.

Maybe you have the entire family coming over to your home for Christmas dinner.

This morning we got some help with the proper etiquette that may even help make the party a little less stressful for you.

Rachelle Logan with R U Ready School of Etiquette and Media Training joined us to talk party etiquette.

Related: Need something to keep the kids busy? Try creating botanical journals


1. Rules and Guidance: In your invitation by phone, email or paper invitation, make sure your mask wearing and vaccine rules are clearly stated. Mention there will be an area designated for smokers. Before your event, make sure the guests know the time the event starts and what time it ends. The hostess should know the age and number of the children coming so that you can have a room or area set up for them. Have a TV ready for movies or appropriate TV shows along with some snacks or games. If your event is on Christmas Day, set a time for gift opening during the event. Make sure the parents of children are aware that there is a time for opening gifts. Make sure the guest knows where to park. As a courtesy, inform your neighbors of your event.

2. Be Prepared: Take a deep breath throughout the day.

If you set a time schedule, start on time. As the hostess, make sure all of your personal things are done at least a full hour before the event starts. Hair, makeup, clothes on and the house is ready to receive guests. Make sure the bathrooms are stocked and the rooms that are not open to guest are closed off. Go outside and walk through the front door like you are a guest to get a visual of what your guests will see upon arriving outside and into your home. Make the entrance inviting with some fresh flowers in the hall or foyer. Designate friends and family for particular jobs, like keeping the water cooler filled, keeping the appetizer trays full, and tending to the guests. It’s ok to have some soft music playing. My choice would be soft jazz or instrumental music that is not a distraction.

3. Greetings: Either you as the host or a designated person(s) should greet each guest at the door upon arrivals. Make sure your helpers eat prior to the guests arriving. Have a designated area or coat rack set up for coats and hats. The greeter should tell the guests where the hostess is within the home and where the drinks and appetizer areas are located. Also, upon arrival, the greeters should let the guests know what the schedule of the day is. i.e., gift opening and dinner time. If the guests bring gifts for the hostess, have a nicely decorated basket or box dedicated for the gifts at the door. The hostess should make sure to have flower vases prefilled with water for flowers from guests. If masks are required, have a box of masks ready at the door for guests that forgot theirs.

4. Let’s Eat: The hostess should know where the guests will sit prior to them arriving at the table. If you are cooking or having the food catered, make sure the food is ready before the 1st guest arrive. Decorate the tables with simple beautiful decorations but do not over-power the tables. Make sure the food is labeled in case there are people with food allergies. Unless the event is a catered black-tie-formal event, guests can begin eating once they get their food and sit down. Have to-go containers ready for guest to take left-overs! Announce there will be no no cell phones at the table.

5. Enjoy The Event: I was taught a good hostess takes good care of their guests. Some hostesses go overboard and forget to eat or take a break. Some forget to enjoy themselves at their own events. Hostess should build in time to sit and chat with their guests. They should have a 2nd in command to help the guests when you are taking a break. Do not spend the entire time running around and not enjoy the event that you invited guests to. Tell a family member to set a timer to remind you to take a break and unwind. Allow the guests to serve themselves. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Relax and enjoy all of your planning and preparation. Upon departing, be sure to thank the guests for coming.


1. RSVP: Once you receive an invitation, send your response to the hostess in a timely manner. It’s ok to ask the hostess if masks will be required prior to making your decision so it won’t be a surprise at the event. If masks are required at the event, please wear a mask unless you are eating. If you RSVP and can’t make it or going to be late, let the hostess know as soon as possible before the event starts. Be considerate and ask the host if you can bring extra guests before you add them to your RSVP list. This will allow the hostess to say yes or no and also help the hostess make the proper additional preparations. Do not show up with uninvited guests without approval.

2. Be On Time: Plan ahead to show up on time. There may be a list of events planned for the day and the hostess will want all of her guests to participate. If you are going to be late, give the hostess a heads up but don’t expect the on-time guests to wait for you to get there. Quietly come on in and join the festivities. Please apologize to the hostess for being late upon your arrival. All guests should bring a small token of appreciation to the hostess for being invited. It can be a simple “thank you for hosting” card. Other ideas are flowers and wine.

3. Respect the House Rules: Do not wander all over someone’s house, unless the hosts say it’s ok. If there are off-limited areas, respect those areas. If you want a tour of the house, ask the hostess or the greeters. Respect the hostess’ home at all times. If you bring children, make sure you discuss the boundaries to them before you leave home. Don’t allow your children to run freely in the hostess’ home. Keep a close eye on them while in the home. Do not take pictures of guests or children unless you have the parent’s permission. Do not “GO LIVE” on the internet and film others unless you get their permission, especially for the children. Always respect other people’s privacy. Everyone does not want to be on the internet.

4. Let’s Talk About It: Come prepared to have a good time and to see family and friends. You may or may not know all of the guests. Remember this is someone’s home and you should respect the hostess and their guests. Stay away from argumentative topics. Don’t be the Mask Police. If you at the table and hear a conversation that may get heated, do not chime in, just let the hostess know. If you have issues with someone, talk to the hostess. It is not your place to make a scene about an issue that you are passionate about. You have no right to question people about their vaccine status. Do not have your cell phones on the table. If you must make or take a call, excuse yourself from the table or the room where you are. Do not talk on the speakerphone while inside of the house when other guests are there. Turn your phone on vibrate or silent during the time you are in someone’s home.

This is a time for fun and fellowship and not a political or medical debate. If you feel uncomfortable at the event for any reason, you should leave.

5. Time To Go: The time has come for the event to end. It’s time to leave. Offer help to the hostess to help clean up. Unless invited to stay longer, don’t overstay your welcome. Know what time the party ends and be prepared to leave at that time. Make sure you take home what you brought such as phone chargers, coats, hats, umbrellas, etc. Thank the hostess again when departing. You can never say “thank you” too many times.