9 Common Dinner Guest Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them)

Are you arriving too early? Don’t know what to bring? Lizzie Post, host of the Awesome Etiquette podcasts, has the answers.

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9 mistakes youre making as a dinner party guest

Photo, Sian Richards.

1. Addressing allergies or dietary restrictions only when you sit down at the table. “If you’ve got the kind of allergy where just the smell causes a wonderfully dramatic EpiPen incident, let the host know in advance.”

2. Bringing food unannounced. “Don’t bring a whole dish if you haven’t been asked to. Holidays are a time for [hosts] to take care of guests. If it’s a potluck, ask what’s needed.”

3. The intolerable relatives are driving you nuts and — oh no — you’re yelling at the dinner table. “Do the best you can. Greet them, smile, say hello. This isn’t the time to pick a fight. But if they start going down a road you don’t want to, use one of the great conversational outs we have (e.g., ‘Jane, I hope things look up. I’m so glad you’re here to celebrate with us today. I’m going to go grab a drink/talk to Karen’).”

A Deceptively Easy Thanksgiving Feast In Under 4 Hours — Plus, 5 More Menus
A Deceptively Easy Thanksgiving Feast In Under 4 Hours — Plus, 5 More Menus

4. Arriving either super early or super late. “Aim to arrive somewhere within the first half-hour. Being early intrudes on your host’s prep time, but don’t get there past the 30-minute hors d’oeuvre mark.”

5. Insisting on helping. It’s wonderful to offer, but never insist and start doing things if the hosts have turned you down. If they want you to sit and enjoy, sit and enjoy.”

6. Hanging out in the kitchen. “Take social cues. Where are the hors d’oeuvres set up? That’s probably where your host wants you to hang out.”

7. Bringing an elaborate hostess gift. “Gifts aren’t mandatory, but if you do [give one], make it something simple. For example, my mom gives hard sauce to all of her closest friends during the holidays.”

8. Forgetting to say thank you. “With close friends and family, it’s perfectly okay to make a phone call or even send a text message. But it’s not a bad idea to send a note. It can never be replaced.”

9. Not enjoying yourself. “If you like to drink, drink and be merry. If you don’t, don’t. At office parties, stick to one drink or none at all.”