Dream guests are made of this: Arrive punctually, be a conversationalist, and ask if anyone would like the last piece before you take it. A few more tips for being the most gracious guest you can be (without worrying about it too much):
1. RSVP toute de suite (specifically, within 3 days of receiving your invitation).
2. If the invitation doesn't say "and guest" and it's to a large party, it's ok to ask the hostess beforehand if you are allowed to bring a plus-one. But for seated dinners, weddings, and anything requiring a reservation or tickets, the awkwardness it would cause your hostess to accommodate your friend outweighs any it causes for you to show up alone—don't do it.
3. Don't show up early or, for a sit-down or time-sensitive event, arrive more than fifteen minutes late.
4. Come with a hearty appetite and a rested soul. Send your thank-you gift, though, either before the party or the day after. A bottle of her favorite spirit or wine, flowers already in a vase, the host's favorite candle, an object of conversation from the night before, or a heartfelt thank you note are tried and true winners.
5. Arrive festively well-dressed. If you're not in the mood to get dressed up, put on a pair of nicer shoes with whatever you have on—that combination works anywhere, anytime, any place.
6. Put your cell phone away immediately. (But you knew this).
7. If you're wearing lipstick, blot it on a piece of tissue before you leave half-moon marks on the glasses and smudges on the cloth napkins.
8. Don't arrive at a loss for words. Read the paper or a news website—you can't go wrong with the New York Times (or Food52!)—and come armed with a few conversation starters. But don¹t feel compelled to channel Oscar Wilde.
9. Talk to the person on your left and on your right. Listen thoughtfully and ask questions (and keep in mind that jumping into someone else's conversation only works if you're sitting directly next to them).
10. Be the first to make a toast and the last to say goodnight.
How have your guests made good impressions on you over the years? Share your favorite says to say thanks! in the comments.
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