The 7 Mistakes You Shouldn't Make at a New Year's Eve Party

new years eve party toast

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New Year's Eve is approaching, and with party invitations beginning to circulate, it's time to brush up on those manners to ensure that you're the best guest you can be when the big night finally arrives. We spoke with event and etiquette experts from across the country who shared seven mistakes that guests frequently making on NYE.

Meet the Expert

  • Jules Martinez Hirst is an etiquette expert and instructor, and the author of the book "Power of Civility."
  • Lisa Grotts is a self-proclaimed "new school" etiquette expert with over two decades of experience.
  • Maryanne Parker is an etiquette and protocol consultant.

1. Declining to RSVPing Promptly

Even in 2021, sending in an RSVP is still extra key. "Remember to RSVP to the host or hostess right away, even if you are not sure you can attend," etiquette expert Jules Martinez Hirst says. If you're unsure what your social plans will look like that week and are waiting to see what else comes up, don't convey this to your host. Hirst comments, "Instead, you can say, 'Thank you for the invitation. I may have a conflict that evening; however, if I don't, I would love to attend. I should know by next week. Will that work for you?'"

Additionally, don't assume that your invitation can be automatically extended to other friends or visitors. "Never show up at a party with a guest when you were the only one invited," Hirst states. "If you have an unexpected guest, call your host and explain the situation; chances are your host will be happy to extend an invitation to your guest as well."

2. Filling Up on Food at Home Beforehand

Simply put, "Don't eat before you arrive," etiquette expert Lisa Grotts says. "There is a reason why we say 'eat, drink, and be merry.'" Save some room in your stomach to enjoy all that the party host has to offer—that is, assuming the event is a sit-down dinner. Clarifies Grotts, "But by all means, if you're just going to be drinking, you should have something in your stomach to coat it ahead of time!"

And if you're the host, you shouldn't underestimate your guests' food and beverage needs, says Tracy Taylor Ward, owner and creative director at her eponymous event planning and design production firm. "It's not easy to predict how much your guests will eat and drink, but a good rule of thumb is to always overestimate, especially on New Year's Eve," she notes. "The celebratory nature often results in guests throwing caution to the wind when it comes to overindulging, which, if you don’t plan properly, could result in running out of food and drinks well before the clock strikes midnight."

3. Keeping to Oneself

Even if you're feeling worn out after weeks of gatherings with friends and family, you'll want to put your best foot forward just one more time before wrapping up the holiday party circuit. "If you were invited, your host thinks you have something to add to the evening," Grotts notes. "Make sure you engage in conversation with others. It's always a two-way street."

At the same time, chatterboxes will want to be mindful of how much they're speaking, etiquette expert Courtney Fadler comments. "Take care not to dominate the conversation," she says. "It’s great to tell a story or two, but pay attention to social cues and allow others to share their sentiments as well."

4. Arriving Too Early or Late

Fashionably late actually isn't so great, Fadler notes. "Arrive on time, but not early, to a dinner party or gathering," she advises. "Your host is likely putting the finishing touches on the party and isn’t ready to entertain. If you’re going to be more than 15 minutes late, notify your host in advance so they aren’t waiting on you for food or festivities."

5. Not Arriving Ready to Party

Showing up in a good mood—and with a token of appreciation for your host—is all you need to do. "Arrive with a smile on your face and a host gift in hand, such as a bottle of wine or a potted plant," Fadler suggests. "Everyone loves a happy guest who is ready to enjoy the evening and isn’t grumbling about the day."

6. Making These Toasting Mistakes

A New Year's Eve party is bound to feature a toast or two. Etiquette expert Maryanne Parker shares a few best practices to keep in mind when raising your glass. First, make sure your cup is full—if you don't consume champagne, a fizzy non-alcoholic drink like sparkling apple cider is perfectly acceptable, she says. "Participating in a toast with an empty glass is rather disrespectful and shows that we are not part of the celebration," Parker shares. And there's no need to actually clink glasses, she adds. " On many occasions, people do refrain from clinking glasses, because some crystal can easily break, and instead of being the best guest we might quickly become the worst one." The alternative move is much easier and will still suffice as a way to greet everyone at the table. States Parker, "We can rise the glass on the level of our face, look the person in front of us in the eyes and say 'Cheers' in a gentle way."

Not sure how to hold your glass properly? Etiquette expert Kelley Yates shares the following tip. "Don't hold your glass as if it is a goblet," she states. "Do hold it by the lower part of the stem for a more elegant poise and to avoid warming the wine."

7. Feeling Pressured to Have a Midnight Kiss

There are many reasons why someone may not wish to smooch with another party guest at midnight—and it's more than acceptable to decline. "When the clock strikes midnight and the kisses start flying, you can politely say, 'No, thank you,'" Hirst comments. "If you are not that bold, then you can politely turn your head for a kiss on the cheek if your friend heads toward you."