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When you hear the word ‘etiquette’, you probably think of a scene from Downton Abbey or an 18th century charm school.  However, etiquette is still alive and well, especially when it comes to hosting or attending a party.  Today’s rules might not be as specific as napkin folds and salad forks but there are rules to heed.


  1. Don’t assume everyone drinks alcohol. While beer, wine and cocktails are still king for most partygoers, there will always be someone in attendance who doesn’t drink.  Make sure you at least have sparkling water or a booze-free punch available.
  2. Use assigned seating for dinner parties. Large groups cause chaos when there isn’t order.  Predetermine your seating arrangement before the guests arrive to keep things running smoothly and control the dynamic.
  3. Be prepared for spills. Accidents happen, and you’ll want to freak out when someone tips over a wine glass.  Don’t.  Have a contingency plan ready to clean up spills and messes without disrupting the party.


  1. Don’t come emptyhanded. Unless you’ve been specifically instructed to come with empty hands, bring something.  Whether it’s a bottle of wine or a dessert, a small gift is a way for you to express gratitude for the party invite.
  2. Answer the invite. If your host has asked for an RSVP, it’s important.  This is a way for the host to plan food and drink portions.  Don’t leave them high and dry by ignoring the invite instructions.
  3. There’s no such thing as fashionably early. People always show up late.  It’s human nature, and if you live in a metropolitan area, it’s expected.  However, don’t show up early.  Those last few chaotic moments are the host’s last chance to perfect the details.  Curb your excitement and wait until start time.

Though etiquette as we once knew it is outdated, there are still modern rules to abide by.