Books have been written about being a good host, but being a good guest, that kind of has been left to the individual's discretion. This is probably not a good thing, seeing how the Northwest for some reason thinks a plaid REI shirt is good enough for formal occasions.
So with the assistance of Skikk og Bruk, here are a few random etiquette pointers you might want to take into consideration next time you're invited to a dinner party or whatever other type of formal or semi-formal occasion. Heck, you might even get to apply a few of them to informal get togethers.
- Make sure to bring something. A bottle of wine is pretty standard. Even two bottles if you have a tendency to toss a few back. Bringing something, anything, is a good way to prove you're not there to mooch.
- It might be worthwhile asking the host what you can bring for more formal get togethers.
- Don't bring food unless asked to.
- If dietary restrictions prevent you from eating any types of food prepared in the same area as the foods you can not eat... Probably a good idea to mention this before the party as opposed to during.
- Give the host a head's up if you're going to be late. And if "late" means "an hour late" you probably should just RSVP with a "no."
- On the flipside, getting there too early is not much better than being late.
- No, seriously, a plaid REI shirt won't really do at a formal occasion. A tie won't help.
- Complimenting the food (or anything else) is kind of a must. Unless it really is bad. Then words like "interesting" or "enthralling" could be used instead. You have to say something at least!
- Don't bring kids to formal parties unless you check with the host that it's OK.
- Running off to talk on your cellphone is kind of rude. Excuse yourself and step into a private area if you have to make a phone call or SMS or whatever.
- Politics and religion aren't good topics of conversation unless you want to piss people off. (And that's kind of frowned upon during dinner parties.)
- Don't leave before dessert -- Larry David was sadly wrong about that one.
- On the other hand, leave gracefully at a decent hour. The host shouldn't have to ask you to leave.
Just a few good ones to keep in mind. We've all broken a few of those at least once, but hey, why not strive to be better?