Some of the rules for being a great party guest go beyond the obvious: replying with an RSVP as soon as possible or not bringing an extra person. Other guidelines and etiquette ‒ engaging with the host and other guests, respecting their belongings and behaving appropriately ‒ are also key to being a good guest. However, you should take a few other steps to ensure you’re the best guest possible to earn your place on every party list.

1) Party-Going Tips

When you RSVP, tell the host if you have any dietary restrictions so they can accommodate your needs in conjunction with the set menu. Also offer to bring a dish, dietary restrictions or not. Bringing an appetizer, salad or side dish will help ease the host’s burden, but confirm the dish with them ahead of time to ensure it fits into the menu they have planned.

Bring a host or hostess gift to show your appreciation for the invitation and the work they have put into organizing the get-together.

A final tip to make you the most-valued guest: Keep an eye on the hosts’ plates and glasses. Offer to fetch something for them to eat or fill their glass when they need it. They are likely busy ensuring that everyone else is taken care of and may not get to take care of themselves for a while. Watching after them will also show your appreciation for the invite.

2) What to Bring the Hostess

When attending a party, you might not always be well-acquainted with the host or hostess. If the party is a way to get to know them, then bring one of these hostess gifts that go beyond the tried-and-true dish towels, cheese knives, candles and serving dishes.

  • A Crowd-Pleasing Game. Try taking a game like Cards Against Humanity, Jenga or Farkle, a dice game, if the crowd is younger and seems as though they might enjoy a group activity to bond over.
  • Something for the Kitchen. An electric wine bottle opener or a bottle of quality olive oil is also a thoughtful gift that most people appreciate.
  • A Vintage Book. If you already have a subject in common, even if it’s simply the topic of entertaining guests, a vintage book with a note inside the cover also makes a unique gift.

3) What to Bring to Holiday Parties

Unless they are dinner parties, holiday parties can be slightly more casual. For a celebration that doesn’t include a fixed or planned menu, offer to bring a dish but, again, coordinate it beforehand with the host or hostess. These options are easy to assemble and transfer to the party location.

  • Kebabs. Try kebabs with dips as an appetizer. These can be made in several varieties to provide one or two meat options and a vegetarian option with a dip that works for all three. Kebabs are also an easy food to bring to a party and should still be hot upon arrival. No prep time at the party house.
  • Cranberry and Brie Tarts. Another easy appetizer, cranberry and brie tarts in phyllo cups are always popular. Just cube the brie and top it with cranberry sauce in each phyllo cup. Heat them in the oven long enough to melt the brie and then on to mingling you go.

4) What to Bring to a Dinner Party

Choose the best dinner party gift with a little thought and consideration for the host or hostess. These dinner party gifts show the host or hostess that you know them or were creative enough to choose something beyond run-of-the-mill options that contribute to a home that entertains.

  • For the Gardener. If you’re attending a dinner party, it’s likely the host or hostess enjoys cooking and possibly may even have a green thumb and grows some of their own ingredients. A bouquet of fresh produce or herbs, simply wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine, will be a welcome gift to such a host. Another creative gift is a beautifully designed plant mister to keep the garden well-watered.
  • For the Constant Entertainer. A portable, preferably waterproof, speaker is a thoughtful gift that can help the host or hostess set the atmosphere at the next dinner party, whether it’s inside or outdoors.
  • For the Homebody. A well-researched bottle of wine is always a safe bet, but for the wellness types who keep a cozy home, consider a scented oil diffuser.

About the Author

Molly Harris

Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at