Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

How To Be The Perfect Guest

Written by Patti on March 28th, 2017

Good Morning Darlings!

I am asked so often what is the best thing to bring to a dinner party. So many lovely answers. No one ever seems to ask what not to do.

But I am happy to clue you in. Shall we begin?

  1. Never show up early. Ever. Your hostess is putting the finishing touches on everything (including her face). Don’t be early. We expect to give you a 15 minute window to arrive after the announced time. Five or ten minutes late is perfect. We will greet you at the door with a smile and cocktail and welcome you warmly. Showing up early is akin to setting the cat on fire or knocking over an entire bottle of red on a crisply ironed white linen tablecloth (but even that is more tolerable than showing up early). Don’t set the cat on fire, please. And it bears repeating – don’t be early.
  2. Do show up with a small something for your hosts. Wine is always welcome. Bourbon is even better. A couple of fluffy cinnamon rolls for your hostess to enjoy the next morning is so sweet. We love homemade treats. And if you are bringing a beer, something unusual or local is sure to please. What not to bring? Please, for the love of all that is southern, please do not show up with flowers that are not in a vase. The last thing your hostess wants to think about is running around looking for something to put those flowers in.  Also, do not bring a dish that you have not been asked to bring. This is a no-no for a couple of reasons: A. this dinner has been scrupulously planned, right down to the olives & nuts served with cocktails, and B. all of her serving dishes have been coordinated with the table. If you show up with pimento cheese sandwiches on a flowered tray, she (I) might fly into a silent rage. While smiling. We southern hostesses always smile.
  3. Introduce yourselves to the other guests as they arrive. Especially if your hostess has to duck into the kitchen for just a moment. Ask how they know the hosts. That always gives you something to talk about. She has put you all together for a reason and thinks you will be fine friends by the end of the night. If you are shy, think of it this way – you are going to meet your new best friends and it’s way more comfortable.
  4. Have an interesting or funny story to tell. Keep it short. Keep it clean.
  5. Read the crowd. Is everyone drinking and then drinking some more? Well, then. Go ahead and have that third gin and tonic. Is it a school night and the group is having a cocktail before dinner and either a glass of wine or beer with dinner? Follow suit.

That’s a good start. Let me know your favorite ideas. Oh! And here’s a look at our homemade limoncello. Next time we make a double batch. This disappeared in no time. Serve it in a gorgeous cut glass decanter. Or bring some to your hostess. Before serving, put in the freezer so it is ice cold when your guests enjoy it. YUMMY!

Lemon & vodka, ready to mix with the simple syrup.

xoxo, Patti


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