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How to be a Good Party Guest: Party Etiquette You Need to Know

Knowing how to be a good party guest involves how you arrive at the party or how you act once inside. Preparation is key when it comes to attending any event, and this includes understanding the basics of party etiquette s as well.

party host serving food to party guests at and indoor party

Whether it’s for a social event or business function, there are certain things you should do and not do to ensure that you are well received by the host(s) of the party.

Party Etiquette Tips

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When attending any kind of social gathering, it is important that you make an effort to attend and ensure your presence is felt by your hosts. Being a good party guest is all about how you conduct yourself while attending the event and how much effort you put into making sure that your hosts are happy with how you behave and how much enjoyment they will get out of having you at their party.

Preparing for the Party

Always RSVP for a party if one is requested on the invitation. If you need help coming up with what to say, we have tons of examples of how to respond to an invitation here.

If an RSVP isn’t needed by the host(s), then it’s still a good idea to thank them for the invite and let them know if you will be attending. This is basic party etiquette because if you don’t do this, your hosts might end up wondering who you are or why you didn’t call.

The times for the most common social parties are before 6 pm and after 10 pm, but there may be some parties that start earlier or later depending on the host(s’) schedule. A general rule of thumb is that if you are not sure, call and ask about the time the party is going to take place.

It is considerate to ask if you can bring something as well. However, remember if you are asked to bring something and you agree, the host is counting on you bringing that item so don’t forget!

Dress Appropriately

If the party is a dinner party or formal affair, do your best to ensure that you are dressed appropriately. Ensuring that you aren’t under-dressed for the party will ensure that you are well received and appreciated by your hosts.

If it is a costume party such as a Christmas theme party, be sure to dress up—there are often costume contests at these types of events as well.

Show appreciation by bringing a gift for the host or hostess

If you are invited to a party in someone’s home, it’s customary to bring a small gift for your host or the hostess.

It doesn’t have to cost a lot, and you don’t need to spend an excessive amount of time choosing the perfect gift.

Most party hosts and hostesses appreciate when you bring them a small token to thank them for inviting you, but don’t feel like you have to spend a lot of money on the gift, and don’t worry if you’re not sure what to get.

Why bring a Hostess gift?

You should bring a gift when you’re invited to someone’s home because it was nice of the person to invite you. You don’t have to get a gift, but it is always nice to show gratitude by bring a little something.

If not sure what to bring, a bottle of wine or a packaged dessert is always a nice addition to any party. Flowers are also a nice idea.

A thank you note after the fact, such as a text message the next day or a hand written note, is a great thing to give as well.

Group Of Friends Enjoying Pre Dinner Drinks At Home

Arrive on Time

Ensure that you arrive at the party on time. This means calling ahead or letting someone know that you are running late and should arrive anytime between a certain time.

This is important because you don’t want to show up too early or after everyone has already left the party. You can’t be a good guest if you arrive at the party too early or after everyone leaves.

A good rule of thumb is to arrive within 15 minutes of the start time. Try not to arrive prior to the start, and if you do, stay in your car or at least offer to help set up.

Other tips to remember

  • Always respect the privacy of any house—don’t snoop around or open closed doors.
  • Know how much you should ask about their life with someone who is your host’s friend and how much about their personal life is considered over-stepping).
  • Show that you are enjoying the time with the group and the meal (if any).
  • Thank the hosts for having you there.
  • Offer to pick up drinks/food before you get to the party and/or help clean up after while there.

If you have to leave early, let your host know before you go.

When leaving the party be sure to show proper etiquette by:

  • saying how good the party was.
  • by thanking your host for having you there.
  • making sure that they have a plan for how to get rid of all the food, drinks and leftover items so they don’t end up stuck cleaning up by themselves. You can offer to help with the dishes or pick up trash, but don’t insist on staying to help if they refuse your offer.

How To Enjoy Parties More By Following These Party Etiquette Tips

Attending a party can be fun or boring, depending on your attitude. Having a good time at any social gathering requires two things: you have to be willing to participate, and you need to set certain expectations for yourself. For example, don’t expect to meet someone you want to marry at a party. Likewise, if your friend is hosting the event and you aren’t the type of person to talk a lot, don’t be disappointed if you find that you are sitting on the sidelines.

There are many things that keep people from being good party guests, like forgetting to bring a gift or being late. A guest should always be apologetic if they do something inappropriate during a party.

Handling Being the First and/or Only Guests

Being the first guest to arrive at a party is both exciting and nerve-racking. You get to meet the host and see what they were talking about, but there might be a lot of anticipation because you might end up helping by showing the other guests where they can put their coats and how to get drinks or food.

Hopefully, the host will make you feel welcome by introducing you to the other guests, but even if they don’t, it’s okay to socialize a bit while everyone else arrives.

Being a good party guest requires the ability to say hello and goodbye, talk with other guests at the party, and thank your host during a party. The following phrases will help you to be more successful in social situations:

Saying Hello And Goodbye

It’s important to greet your host when you arrive at a party and say goodbye before you leave. Being invited to a party is a way of showing that your friends think highly of you. That’s why you should always thank the host for inviting you.

Whether or not the other guests are involved in the conversation, you should greet them and make small talk about something like the weather or what they’re wearing.

Speaking to the host’s friends can be intimidating if you don’t know them, but try to avoid letting your shyness take over. Whether you like it or not, they were invited to the party, too.

Making Small Talk

When attending any kind of social gathering, it is important that you make conversation with the other guests. You can talk about a lot of things like your career, hobbies, or interests, or even the weather.

group of friends sitting at a house partyh holding wine and looking in amazement at person with back to camera view

Talking with Your Host and Other Guests

Most people enjoy the opportunity to talk about themselves. For example, when asked what they do for a living, the typical response is something like: “I’m an accountant,” or whatever job they have.

It’s also normal for people to talk about their hobbies and interests, such as sports, movies, music or books they are enjoying.

Tips for Starting Conversations at Parties

Beginning the conversation is difficult for most people. They are afraid of making a mistake or saying the wrong thing.

One way to start talking about something you have in common with the other person is to ask if he/she has read a particular book, seen a certain movie or listened to a specific kind of music.

When you’re attending a party, you want everyone to remember how much fun they had. Having a good time can be hard if you’re shy or don’t like socializing with people you don’t know.

Things To Avoid If You’re Socially Awkward

Being awkward might be part of your personality, but it’s definitely something to work on when you’re attending a party.

You should take extra steps to avoid being awkward at social gatherings by paying special attention not to do the following:

  • don’t walk right up between two guests who are talking with each other
  • don’t start dancing right in front of people
  • use appropriate table manners at the party—this includes no excessive talking with your mouth full, no picking at or playing with food with your fingers)
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation with the host and their friends (ask questions, but don’t gush over them or talk about topics they can’t contribute to)

Be a good party guest by not being the last one to leave

How long you stay is up to how much enjoyment you get out of being there.

But, unless it is your best friend’s party or you have already arranged to help clean up after, never be the last one to leave.

Parties are meant to be fun and enjoyable. The last thing you want is to be remembered for is how late you stayed. It can be very awkward for the host if the party is over and other guests have left but one or a few guests remain.

Often the host is wanting to clean up and go to bed, or might not be comfortable kicking people out of their house. Be a gracious guest and take your leave when other guests are leaving.

Drinking Alcohol at Parties

When attending any kind of social gathering, it is important that you moderate your drinking and only drink in moderation. While alcohol may help you loosen up, you should know how much is too much.

It can be nice to relax with a drink or two when you’re socializing, but drinking too much alcohol can be unproductive and even dangerous. To help yourself avoid drinking too much, you should know your limits and be aware of how long it takes for alcohol to reach its peak.

group of friends holding fun and colorful mixed drinks with fruit and umbrella picks in a party setting
Young people having fun at a party with cocktails

The problem with alcohol is that it can creep up on you. Your body processes the first drink slowly, and then if you drink more, the alcohol continues to add up.

For example, you might realize you’ve had four drinks by the time you’re on your second or third drink. This can happen even if you’re paying attention to what you’re drinking, and once the booze reaches a certain level in your body, it could become difficult to moderate your drinking.

Tips for Consuming Alcohol while at a Party

Because alcohol can be sneaky, you should pay attention to how quickly you’re going through your drinks

  • Pay attention to when you started drinking so that you know how long it’s been since you had your first drink. In social situations that involve drinking, it can be easy to lose track of how much you’re consuming because other people are drinking at the same time, you’re having fun, and you might already feel a little tipsy.
  • Remember which glass is yours when they’re being set down or passed around. You don’t want to end up with someone else’s drink, and it would be embarrassing if you finished a drink and then realized that it was actually someone else’s.
  • Be aware of how long you’ve been drinking for in order to avoid having too much alcohol in your system.


The best way to have fun at a party is to follow the rules of etiquette. Knowing these rules can help you to get into the spirit of the party, and it will also make the guests around you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

The main reason to follow the rules of party etiquette is that they are intended to make everyone at the party as comfortable as possible.

If you’re a good guest, people will appreciate that you went out of your way to follow the rules of behavior at a party.

Looking to plan your own party? Grab our free printable Party Planning Checklist and tips for planning a party step by step here.

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