The holidays are coming soon, so 'tis the season to be jolly. That said, it's also important to have good manners during all the fun and fellowship. Even your closest family members and friends should be treated with respect when you're visiting them in their homes.
During the holidays, most people will play the role of guest at one point or another. When you are invited to spend some time visiting a friend or relative, you want them to dread seeing you leave instead of wishing you were gone. The best way to leave them with a good feeling about you is to follow some of the most basic manners and etiquette guidelines.
Bring a Host or Hostess Gift
When you visit someone, you should never arrive empty-handed, so take along a thoughtful hostess gift. For added effect, wrap it nicely and attach a card with a touching or inspirational sentiment. This goes for everyone. Even if you are visiting your mother, sister or best friend she or he will still appreciate a token gift of thanks.
Wait for Directions
Once you have arrived and entered the home, you should definitely wait to be directed into one room or another. A good host or hostess will always take the lead, and you should follow their directions. They will be clear on where the socializing is happening, and you should not wander into other "off limits" areas without prior permission.
If you need to use the restroom, you should ask for permission and directions to the more public powder room. If you have observed that the only restroom is upstairs or in a bedroom, avoid the urge to look around.
Don't ask your host or hostess for a tour of his or her home, and refrain from doing things like opening the refrigerator or closed doors. This behavior is considered rude.
Show Respect for the Host's Home
Before you arrive at a party or event where there are other guests present, make a decision on how long you will stay. Try not to be the straggler or last one out. In general, don't stay too long or be the last one to leave. The only time you should stay after other guests have gone is if your offer to help clean up has been accepted by the host.
Likewise, you should show due respect for your hosts home by not putting your feet up on the furniture. The only place you should even consider doing this is in your own home.
Clean your shoes prior to entering the house, use a coaster for your drink, and be careful not to make spills. If you do spill something, act quickly to clean it up. If anything is damaged, make sure you cover the cost of repair or replacement.
Wait for Offers
Whether your visit is a formal dinner engagement, cocktail party, or casual event, you should wait until you are offered a drink, snack or meal rather than requesting one on your own. Doing otherwise is rude. However, if you are thirsty, it's fine to ask for a glass of water.
Mind Your Graces, Ps and Qs
"Minding your Ps and Qs" is an English expression that means one should mind his or her manners and be on his or her best behavior. When visiting, regardless of the occasion, you should follow proper etiquette rules.
Remember to be friendly and show your engaging style. If you know in advance that you are in a bad or disagreeable mood, you might want to reschedule your visit as soon as you realize your predicament. If you find that your host has already made preparations for your visit, press on and make at least a short appearance out of respect for his or her time.
You should always send a thank you note after visiting someone's home. Even if you were just there for a snack or tea, it shows that you appreciate the hospitality. The ideal thank you note should be written and mailed within a couple days of the visit.
Enjoy your visit and be sure to keep all of these in mind as you host as well. Many guests will look to their host for guidance, and if you're polite, they will be too.
Edited by Debby Mayne