As a guest, it’s your job to put all your positive qualities on display: enthusiasm, congeniality, consideration, and thoughtfulness. This goes double at the holidays.

  • Arrive on time: Never show up early and if you’ll be more than 15 minutes late, call ahead.
  • Put away your cell phone: While you’re staying at someone else’s home, consider yourself “unavailable.” Don’t take long personal calls, and if you’re expecting an important call, set your phone to vibrate and excuse yourself to take the call.
  • Be considerate: Don’t put your feet on furniture, always use a coaster for drinks, and leave the bathroom neat for the next person.
  • Be complimentary: About the food, the décor, the traditions, the company.
  • Respect your host’s trust: Don’t snoop in cabinets, closets, or desks. If you break something, let your host know and offer to pay for the repair.
  • Be a willing participant: Take part in whatever your host offers and be active in the conversation, chatting with people on both your left and right at the dinner table.
  • All things in moderation: Try not to overindulge, whether it’s the hors d’oeuvres or the pinot noir.
  • Offer to help when you can: Offer to pass hors d’oeuvres, light candles, help serve dessert.  If your offer is turned down, don’t insist.
  • Unless invited in, keep clear of the kitchen: If your host says “no thanks,” go enjoy yourself at the party.
  • Don’t switch place cards: Your spot was chosen especially for you, so enjoy it!
  • Give a gift: Aside from any holiday gift, give a small token of thanks for your stay. This may given on arrival, during the visit, or sent soon afterward.
  • Thank your hosts twice: Once when you leave, and again with a handwritten thank-you note.