Sunday, October 10, 2004

The art of being a perfect guest

Parties need great hosts and great guests. For tips on how to be the latter, we turned to Marja Wade Barrett of Fort Mitchell, whose new etiquette book Business Manners for Success (Cincinnati Book Publishing; $23.95) hits stores Thursday.

Respond to invitations promptly and with enthusiasm. E-mail is fine if the address is on the invitation or if it's from a good friend.

Arrive on time. If it's a public space, it's OK to arrive a bit early and mingle. If it's a private home, it's not OK.

Mingle and converse. Think of a few topics in advance but avoid gossip (you never know who's listening); sexist, ethnic or disability jokes; politics and religion (unless you know exactly where people stand on issues).

Dress appropriately. If it's black tie, wear black tie. If it's casual or business attire, dress that way. But nothing risque.

Greet the host and hostess and express appreciation before food is served.

Don't over-imbibe. Alternate soft drinks and cocktails.

Hostess gifts are appropriate at private homes only.

Jim Knippenberg

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