Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Party in the USA! 10 dos and don'ts

If you ever get a little confused with the American party etiquette, you are not alone!

Holiday season is opened and I share with you some insight of what to do (or not to) as a guest & host. Hope from now on you please Uncle Sam, and be nice according to Santa Claus eyes too!

Guest essentials:

1. Respond invitations ahead
It's polite to show you are making room in your agenda; confirming last minute will send a wrong message (as if you were giving priority to something else). In case you can't confirm with brevity, give the heads up - and make sure to mention when you will be able to answer. Don't stress with the whys, usually nobody cares, everyone just want to better plan the party - and the number of people attending is key. Americans are okay and respectful of people having other plans already drafted, hardly you will hurt someone feelings (but ditching is a different story, be aware).

2. Do not be late
Not sure being on time is actually something only British, as far as I know Americans are pretty much on spot. So don't make people wait (unless they always make you, in which case it wouldn't be disrespectful by default!). Definitely forget the idea of being cool if not punctual - 15min window is tolerated, anything more will present you to the group as rude or careless (here it is considered very selfish to make people run by your clock. Besides, in this country time is a very valuable asset. Get it?)

3. Charm the host
Avoid being empty handed. Lack ideas? Casual events ask for wine, beer, cheese, dessert... Asking the host is not bad! But for special parties I tend to think of a special wine/ liquor, an exotic cooking oil, flowers or a beautiful candle.

4. Be ready to take your shoes off
No shoes policy inside American homes is more common than you can imagine. Most of times people will let you know in advance, but also quite often they assume you would know. Well, now you do!

Hosting Top 6:

1. Prepare ahead
Make a checklist of things to do, and prepare in the prior evening all you can: marinate meat, wash salad and fruits, set table layout... In the day of the event, less is more! So you are ready to greet your guests at the door, and most important: enjoy the party.

2. You set the mood
If you have fun, chances are the whole group will. A friend once told that a party is over when one starts cleaning, and this statement proves to be right all the time for me. Also, I tend to worry too much if there is anything missing, if you are the same... Try drinking another glass and loose it up! My worst nightmare is making people uncomfortable at my place, and I realized I do that when overthinking if they are okay.

3. Arrange a DIY drink station
This is something I have seen quite often here. It is an awesome idea to engage talk among guests, and get the focus away from you if you are busy

4. Get by with a little help
If your event is casual, it is fine to ask guests to bring wine, a side dish or dessert. Just DO NOT make individual calls - either wait for people to offer or be sure to generally add to the invitation "please bring an appetizer of your choice". If anything, you can always ask for some hands when the party starts! One of my friends purposely dont get things ready in time just to engage people, and help conversation flow. Last, NEVER ask for help cleaning up! People who would like to (help), will make their way.

5. Favors
Special events require a small favor in return, and people really expect it. By special occasion Americans mean Holiday parties, showers, children's and milestone birthdays, welcome/ goodbye parties, house-warming... be prepared!

6. Pay thanks
Always thank your guests. If the occasion was very important, try to send flowers their way. If it was a formal event, a well handwritten thank note works best. But if your party was just a casual affair, no problem keeping it as it is - an email or text message is fine.

Peace, fancy china out & glasses up ladies! Happy Holidays!!