Holidays are a time of year when there are bound to be countless parties to attend with friends and family. But the rules for parties stay the same year-round. Whether you are hosting a small dinner with friends, a movie night, or you are attending a graduation banquet or birthday party, here are three timeless rules to live by.

1. Ask and you shall receive.

Host: If you are the one hosting and need some supplies (dip varieties, more paper plates, a bottle of alcohol) ask around for any guests willing to make a quick stop at the store before they head to your gathering. It’s totally appropriate to send a group text or Facebook message with your invite saying you have the main dishes covered if everyone wants to bring a side, or requesting that someone bring white wine along because you only have red on hand. You’ll be surprised how many people actually feel better being able to give back to someone who is opening up his or her home.

Guest: If you are the one attending a gathering, it is always polite and appreciated to ask the host if they need anything beforehand, or to bring something regardless. A good bottle of wine is a great staple, or home-baked goods if you have the time. Not many people will be upset if you show up with a plate full of cookies!

2. Keep things clean.

Host: Since there will be a bigger amount of foot traffic in your home when throwing a party, a quick organization and roundup of things beforehand can help facilitate movement. This all depends on the time you have and the level of cleanliness you feel is necessary. Personally? I can’t have dishes in the sink when someone comes over. If I have a surprise visitor, I actually start washing the dishes while they’re there and apologize profusely.

However, if I didn’t have time to vacuum and there are some coats laying around, I don’t lecture myself for it. Whatever cleaning you feel is necessary, make a little time for it. On the cleanliness note, it’s helpful to make trashcans accessible for guests. They aren’t going to know offhand that you have one under the sink, or that one of the cupboard facades in your kitchen is actually a pull-out compactor. Place the trashcan (and extra if it is a big party) in a corner out of the way, but visible for guests.

 …it is always the best gift to offer to help clean up.

Guest: I know it’s tempting to just leave your plates on the table, but let’s help the host out! If it’s a paper plate and you can’t seem to find the garbage, ask. This will help keep clutter out of the way for other guests and minimize cleanup for the host later on. If it’s a glass or ceramic plate, offer to place it in the sink so as not to take up table space. If you are the last guests leaving the party, it is always the best gift to offer to help clean up. You don’t necessarily have to scrub down the counters, but simply gathering all the empty bottles into one bag is a gesture that goes a long way. Your host will certainly thank you!

3. Give thanks.

Host: Are toasts outdated yet? I never seem to hear them anymore, but if you’re up for it, give a toast (or a general holler) to all your guests and thank them for coming, bringing things, and being the awesome people that they are. Having friends be there for you truly is a timeless treasure, so thanking them shows that their presence did not go unnoticed. They will almost always echo a “no, thank YOU!”

Guest: Thank your host! They opened their home and have secretly been worrying that they will run out of stuff/disappoint you/ that no one will have fun or show up. Show your appreciation with a simple “Thanks for having us,” and I guarantee they will feel like the night was a success.

What are your suggestions for hosting and attending gatherings?

Image via Hart & Honey


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