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Ten Tips for Being a Good Party Guest (With Kids)

YP Editors

As we head into the holiday season, many of us are starting to think about how we'll handle our party logistics.  Who are we inviting to Thanksgiving, and who's going to show reciprocity at Christmas? What extended family gets our spare room, and what close friend is going to need our help with party food? Very importantly, whose kids are most likely to cause a disaster?

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If you're planning to host a party, we thank you—you're creating fun for everyone. If you're a guest at the season's events, please check out the etiquette guidelines below—to make sure that you're part of the celebration, not part of the problem
  1. Err on the side of generosity. Ask ahead of time: "What shall I bring to the party?" Unless your host responds "Don't you dare bring anything whatsoever — I'll be offended," show up with a thoughtful contribution. It may be a hostess gift. Or, it could be a decadent after-dinner treat, a bottle of wine, or even a poinsettia. Be suitable to the occasion — and don't show up empty-handed.
  2. It's not necessary to show up with a gift for the host's children also. Unless you've missed a child's recent birthday or another celebration (i.e. baptism, kindergarten graduation). For one thing, you're not Santa. For another, if other kids are at the party, they could easily feel left out when they don't get presents, too. The exception to this is if the event includes a gift exchange, in which case by all means bring gifts for every kid who will be there. In fact, try to find out exactly who will be there so you include everyone.
  3. Don't offer to bring things to kid-proof someone's house. It implies that your host doesn't know how to keep their own home in order. If you're worried that your little ones might run (or crawl) wild, bring a Pack 'n' Play, several spare baby blankets, or whatever else might help you keep them in check. Definitely explain that this is for the host's convenience.
  4. Don't show up early—unless you are really close to the party host and they've specifically asked you to arrive ahead of everyone else and help with prep. Early arrival is much less desirable than late for normal guests.
  5. Time your arrival to suit the occasion. Let the itinerary, the crowd, and the size of the guest list determine your exact arrival time. If it's a relaxed holiday "drinks thing," you can probably arrive anywhere from 15-30 minutes later than the official start time. If it's a big Christmas party at a friend's house with no formal meal, you can push till even later than 30 minutes after the original start time. If it's a small dinner party, find out when the actual meal is being served, whether there's hangout time before that, and arrive somewhere in between. You can join everyone for a pre-dinner drink and get the kids situated before the meal.
  6. Do not assume your pet is welcome. This is a hard rule unless your host specifically asks you to bring said pet. Even if said host is your dearest friend. Or your parents.
  7. Figure out your own parking. If the event is in a highrise or a downtown area, don't assume parking spaces will be reserved, or that parking will be validated. Be prepared to pay and/or valet — if that bothers you, maybe take an Uber. If it's a house party in a neighborhood without much street parking, connect with your host ahead of time to figure out logistics. Don't just show up in the middle of the party and ask where your space is. Also, don't suggest the host hire a valet for the night unless you're prepared to pay for part of it.
  8. Bring pajamas only if you've discussed it previously with the host.  You may agree that the evening will run longer than the kids are able to stay up, and the host is OK to arrange a quasi-sleepover. But if that's not the case, showing up with an overnight bag indicates that you're planning on a late one, regardless what the host has planned. Let your host decide when everyone needs to clear out of their space.  If your reasoning for bringing pajamas is that you think your youngster might conk out super-early, leave them in your car and "run out to check the trunk" if/when the time comes.
  9. Don't be the person who officially breaks up the party. If you feel like leaving, wait till two other individuals or groups leave, and then make a quiet exit (don't ghost — you should say goodbye to your hosts first). The exception: If you're very close to the host and previously offered to help with cleanup, do not renege. You're in this till the very end.
  10. Ask (just once) for more info. The holidays see every permutation of party, from huge anonymous corporate parties where you know 5 of 500 guests, to small family parties where dinner is served sometime between snacks, football, games, and the fourth bottle of wine. When in doubt of anything — whether it's what kind of food will be served, should you get a sitter, is it a cash bar, or will Uncle Jeff be dressing up as Santa—a quick message or call with all your questions included (not several messages; just one) will help you be the best possible guest.
 
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