Friday, November 9, 2012

Etiquette: Welcome to the Holidays

With the holiday season approaching, this is the perfect time for a quick tutorial about what not to do and what to do while being a guest in someone's home and how to be the perfect host.

Ah, the holiday season: a time of good cheer, hot apple cider, sitting by the fireplace, and singing holiday carols while wrapping presents. Sounds nice doesn't it? Yes, well, to me all those things are but with the good cheer comes teeth-clenching poor etiquette that makes yours truly want to throw a breakable ornament at those that violate the obvious. 

*Pretend Goddess, the Host.
You'll either be one this holiday season or you'll have some in your house in the coming months. To me, nothing is more stressful yet more fun than playing host. I enjoy individualizing my guest room and bathroom to those who will be staying in my home. My goal is to make their stay as comfortable as possible. 
*Know what your guests like. 
*Have some magazines or books they may find of interest on their nightstand to read before bed. 
*Don't have a carafe? Not a problem, but do have a bottle of water in the guest room so your guest doesn't have to leave their comfy room in the middle of the night when they get thirsty. 
*Make your guest feel like they're at a 5-star hotel and have a tiny box of chocolate on their nightstand for them or at least a nicely wrapped piece of chocolate. Again, know your guest. If they can't eat such a sweet, substitute it with what they can indulge in. 
*Flowers. Always, have flowers. Even if it is a single flower in a small vase and not an elaborate bouquet, that's fine. It's actually best to keep the large bouquets in common rooms. Remember: some people are sensitive to scents. Keep it simple. Lightly fragranced or fragrance-free altogether. 
*Keep an extra (unused toothbrush...duh) and travel size toothpaste in the guest's bathroom cabinet, along with cotton balls, q-tips, nice lotion, soap, and decent haircare products. To save money, I recommend travel sizes. 
*And lastly, as the host, make sure your guests are comfortable with plenty of snacks and drinks provided in the kitchen.

*The Overnight Houseguest.
Assume your host has gone to a lot of trouble to prepare for your stay. If you'll be a guest in someone's home this season, understand that it can be overwhelming to have guests and making sure everyone is taken care of and comfortable. Is it stressful for you to have a house of guests? No? Then goody for you. I, the all knowing, believe you to be lying. 
*Be gracious. 
*Most hosts (myself included) want nothing more than for you to make yourself at home. That doesn't mean to not clean up after yourself. The mess you leave in your room during your stay is your business but please be respectful of common areas. The kitchen, the most common room for gathering, needs to be respected. If you get say the orange juice out of the fridge, please put it back after use (unless others are still using it). 
*Never leave your dirty dishes on the table or counter expecting the host to clear it for you. There are times that the host will tell you to leave it. If that is the case, leave it. Don't argue. 
*Unless you have food allergies and specific dietary needs then it is more than acceptable to notify your host so proper meal and food adjustments may be made. And shame on you, host, for not knowing your guests food needs. 
As a guest, this doesn't mean to complain because your usual brand of bread, juice, or whatever isn't available. And by all means, forgive your host for God forbid not buying all organic. You'll survive. Don't be that guest. Be thankful and eat what is being offered. 
*Offer to help in the kitchen. The host will probably say no or will take you up on the offer. If you're an overnight guest, offering is encouraged. 
*The morning of your departure. ASK the host where they keep the change of sheets so you, the guest, can change the bed linens or offer to wash the sheets. If not, you must make the bed before you leave and by all means leave the room exactly how you found it. Now, regarding the first two, as a host I always appreciate when a guest makes such an offer but I never take them up on it. I do find it rude if the bed has not been made. Of course, the sheets will be washed by the time another guest should arrive, but it comes down to simple etiquette and respect.
*Same goes with guest towels. I hate walking into the guest bathroom to find wet towels thrown everywhere. As a guest, keep them hung on the rack. The host will assume you used them and will know to wash them. I don't even mind them draped over the tub/shower. I'm on the fence with them being left on the bathroom floor, as it depends on when I'll get around to cleaning. A friend who stayed with me recently, who is the perfect guest, asked what to do with the towels. I did say to leave them on the floor as I would wash later that day. She asked if she could wash them. Of course I said no. 
*Send a thank-you note to your host once you arrive safely home. Do not text or email the thank-you. Handwritten notes are becoming a lost art form and to me, that is unfortunate. 
Ah, a post for another day. 

The Holiday Dinner/Party Guest
*Be gracious. I can't stress that enough. 
*RSVP. Always RSVP by the date specified on invite. If the invite is only addressed to you, do not bring a guest unless you have cleared it with the host more than 48 hours in advance. I'm not exactly 100% okay with even asking. If it's a holiday party, I don't see the harm in asking if you may bring your date. Though concerning a dinner? It's iffy and again, if you do decide to bring a date you must consult your host so preparations can be made. Food may have been ordered and seating may be limited. 
*If you RSVP yes, it is extraordinarily rude to not show-up. Of course things out of our control arise but please notify your host. 
*Don't be fashionably late to a dinner party even though cocktails are usually served before dinner. Don't be that guest who arrives while everyone is already seated and enjoying their first course. They're not rude for not waiting for you, you're rude for not considering the effort and time that went into the event. 
*Do bring a host/hostess gift. It doesn't need to be extravagant. When in doubt, bring a bottle of mid-priced wine. Now, do not expect your host to serve during the dinner party or get together. They probably already have the selections made. Don't be offended. I assure you, they'll use it another time. 
*Again, don't forget to write a handwritten thank-you note

More to come...


  1. I think the worst don't is already listed, but I strongly dislike someone telling me they are coming to a party/event and hen they do not. Total fail!

    1. I agree! That's very high on my list!
      Please message me your mailing address, dear cousin. Shame on me for not having it.
      You never know I may need it for this giveaway. Don't know yet;)
      Out of curiosity was that the worst don't you mentioned or was it another one I covered?

    2. Oh, no, there are worst ones! I have one on a cousin of ours, but I'm not gonna say it on here. :) That is just one of my bigget pet peeves! :) I'm messaging now!

    3. You're right the RSVP is a huge no no. A no-show and a guest who brings someone with them, are to me and anyone who has any sense, both major faux-paus.

  2. Tis the Season... thanks for the tips... I always thought I was a decent host... next time I will remember to leave the H2O and the Chocolates for our house guests!!
    Great Blog, sending it over to share with my peeps on Google+
    I need an article on Company Party Date Etiquette...

    1. Thanks Ricki! I'm sure you're an excellent host. It's the guests that are more times than not the trouble shooters. I will be writing away all weekend and will definitely work on a post for "Company Party Date Etiquette." Oh, I already have a few strong don'ts for that piece.
      Thanks again! And message me your address. Never know you could be the winner of this giveaway. I only have your old address.

  3. So true Pretend Goddess. I think that the suggestions should even be extended to family, both immediate and extended. I am guilty of not always "doing the right thing" especially when with the parentals. Thanks for the reminder to be behave and respect the ones we love, friends, family and in-laws. Even though love may be stretching it.

    1. Ah well, I believe if my mother were reading this, and I assume she will, she'd tell you that I am an ill-mannered, ungrateful child. She'd also be wrong. You just gave me an idea for yet another blog post. I'll credit you when I write it.
      I have your address. Because you never know, you may have won this giveaway contest.

  4. Totally agree with being on time!!! It takes hard work to pull everything together and not being on time just prevents the hostess from enjoying the evening with everyone else.

    1. Being on time is something I struggle with daily. I've gotten better and if running late, I call.
      I once had a doctor that would keep me waiting on average for 35 minutes each visit. I stopped going.
      Not to quote Dr. Phil (though it appears I am): people who are late are narcissists without regard to anyone else.
      Remembering that quote reminds me to leave the house early. I want you to know that I, Pretend Goddess, don't like that I know a Dr. Phil quote let alone that I know one well enough to even quote.

  5. i so had to say thank you for pointing things out... sometimes ya just want to print instructions like this and hand them to the guest... and when sending out invites.. make a quick reminder... if your going to be late.. let me know!!! when i have guest i take time to make sure all things are nice and ready when they arrive!

    look forward reading more!

    1. a thank you note is always a nice thing... i go to great lengths to make my guest comfortable and feel at home as much as possible... nice to know that i am not alone on providing travel size hygiene items to overnight guest. i keep little baggies filled with different things.. including a travel toothbrush and toothpaste for that reason.. before they arrive i place them in a nice bowl on the bathroom counter for them.. as well.. i provide water for the bedside.. guest should need for little or nothing when staying the night. i think the mints or chocolates on the pillows are always nice.. and keep both on hand for them