If there’s one thing the pandemic made sure of, it’s the fact that we’d be isolated for a large amount of time, with little to no human contact. Depending on where you live, you might still be under state-imposed lockdowns.
But as the vaccine rollout begins and the restrictions ease, things will soon go back to normal- Or, rather, the “New Normal”. Which means that it’ll be time for all the parties and get-togethers we missed.
Most people are just as nervous as they are excited. After having spent so much of their time indoors, they feel as if they’ve forgotten how to interact with others, especially in a social setting.
Never fear! Here are a few tips for being the best host or guest this party season:
Tips for Being a Good Guest:
1. RSVP: Always RSVP [Respond] to any invitation you have been given. Get in touch with the host and thank them for the invitation, then let them know if you’re coming or not. If you aren’t, then apologize and let them know the reason. This way they won’t spend too much time wondering whether you’re going to turn up. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to inquire if you can bring a plus one. Because if you mess up there…well you’re going to be in a bit of a situation, so to speak.
2. Try to arrive on time: This is where most people [including me] fall short. It’s understandable. Life is fast, we’re all busy. But that doesn’t mean you can waltz in anywhere, whenever you like. There’s a time for everything and as a guest, it’s your duty to make sure you value it. It’s okay to be late every once in a while, but try not to make a habit of it. Conversely, don’t show up before the party starts. It’s best to arrive around 12-20 minutes after the starting time.
3. Dress for the event: Usually, the details of the dress code will be provided on the invitation. If it isn’t, then you should consider checking in with the host. Try to dress as appropriately as you can, keeping in mind the event and the company involved. Keeping it simple and classy is a good rule of thumb. After all, being under-dressed is better than looking like a human Christmas tree.
4. Bring the host a gift: This is just to convey your appreciation and regards for their invitation. It doesn’t have to be anything too extravagant. Something small and meaningful, like gifts for the house or a box of chocolates will do. If you’re on closer terms then you’ll know exactly what they’d like. But if you can’t think of anything, then flowers and a bottle of wine always works!
5. Clean up after yourself: No, I’m not asking you to get a bucket and a mop. But considering the trouble the host has taken to invite you and put the event together, cleaning up after yourself is the least you can do. This includes simple things like keeping track of your items, depositing the cutlery in its place, throwing trash into the basket and putting things back where they’re supposed to be. It may seem trivial right now, but believe me, your hosts will be eternally grateful.
6. Offer to help: This is one thing that every guest should do. Hosting is no small feat, especially if it’s a large gathering. Try taking the pressure off of them by lending a hand. It could be anything; the dishes, serving or introductions. Pro Tip: Ask them “How may I help you?” rather than “Can I help you?” It sounds much more polite and they’ll be more likely to accept your offer.
7. Connect with people: I know you don’t want to hear this, but you need to: Get Off the phone! And for heaven’s sake, try to talk to someone for more than two minutes. With the advent of technology, most of us have forgotten how to live in the real world or even hold a conversation for more than a minute. Not only is it incredibly rude, but you’re also missing out on all the fun. While it might be acceptable if you’re expecting an urgent call, generally you should turn off your notifications and put your phone on airplane mode.
8. Drink less: Now by no means am I ordering you to become a temporary teetotaller. Not at all. However, it’s important that you keep in mind your tolerance limits and don’t exceed them. Binge drinking when you’re with your close friends is very different from drinking at a public or formal event. You don’t want to be the fool who gets drunk and misbehaves in front of everyone, do you? So it’s best to restrict yourself to a couple of drinks or none if you can’t hold it.
9. Don’t linger on for too long: Yes, I get it. The party was amazing, you loved meeting everyone and you had the best time of your life. But you’ll have to leave at some point. And it’s better to do so before you overstay your welcome. But that doesn’t mean you walk out moments after entering either. If at all you’re in a hurry, spend a little time and then excuse yourself. Other times, see when the party begins to break up. Ideally the timing should be mentioned on the invitation. When you see a lot of people leaving, it’s time for you to say goodbye as well. This way you’ll save your host the awkwardness of kicking you out when the time comes.
Tips for Being a Good Host:
On the other side of the event aisle lies hosting. Depending on whether you like it or you’ve been forced to, being a host is a situation most of us have or will find ourselves in. And it’s a huge responsibility, not to mention the success of the event will depend on your hosting abilities.
If the prospect of hosting leaves you with shaky knees, don’t panic. There are a few basic things you can keep in mind to ensure that everything goes smoothly-
- Plan all details: Planning an event is undoubtedly a mammoth task. But the key to planning a successful one is in the timing and details. Structuring all the details and planning everything in advance will save you a lot of headaches and increase the chances of the event being successful. You’ll also have more time to focus on your guests and take care of any last minute emergencies.
- Send invitations: Or E-vites as they’re called these days. Are we still doing that? Or is it just a quick touch and text? Either way, send it at least a fortnight before the actual event. And include all the details so that they’re not left confused: Date, time, occasion, dress code, size, venue and plus ones (or not). This will give your attendees enough time to plan, adjust their schedule and confirm their attendance.
- Check your guest’s preferences: This is an important task that needs to be done before the event menu is prepared. The last thing you want is for your guest to not be able to eat anything at the occasion. So it’s best to call and text them in advance to gather the needed data: Their health restrictions, diet and intolerance/allergies. Don’t forget to have some non-alcoholic beverages on hand, as well.
- Greet every guest at least thrice: A host always has a lot on their plate. Add a huge gathering to the mix and every second of your time is accounted for. Trust me, I know that it’s not possible to have a long chatty conversation with each guest. But it wouldn’t do to ignore them completely either. So you can make it a personal rule to do a couple rounds around the room and greet every guest. Spend a few minutes talking to them and thank them for attending and the gifts they’ve brought. You can also introduce guests to each other if you know they have something in common or will get along. Just make sure that no one feels excluded or left alone.
- Control yourself: This is the most difficult part. In an event full of different kinds of people, there bound to be a few disagreements. If there are people, there’s a mess. You have to constantly serve them, ensure their well being and diffuse any tensions. It’s quite natural to feel overwhelmed and irritated. But a good host never takes it out on their attendees.
Keep telling yourself that this event will last for a limited amount of time. Deep breaths, take it on the chin. If you’re feeling antsy, then head over to a private area (where you wouldn’t be seen or heard) and scream/cry for five minutes. It’ll release the internal pressure that’s building up. You could also splash your face with cold water and have a sip to calm yourself down. Don’t worry too much though. All these people have to go home sooner or later. One event isn’t the end of your life. It’ll pass.
Always remember; when you’re hosting an event, the guest is your first priority. In order to be a good host, you need to do everything you can to make sure that your guests feel comfortable and have a good time. Sometimes, it may result in you having to give up on things you like but trust me, the smiles and laughter of the guests and the sense of achievement you feel in the end is well worth it.
Just like everything else, being a top-notch host/guest comes with time, experience and practice. Remember, it all starts with hard work and ends with champagne. It’s an art form, which if mastered, can make you a delight for people to be around and serve you well in different social situations. And if you take care to follow these tips, then you’ll soon become a great host/guest. Good luck!
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