A few weeks ago, we hosted a small gathering (a dinner party) for some of our local MSP friends from the tri-state area. Prior to the event, I sent an email out to everyone informing them that the Kaila Home is a “No Shoes” home, and that I’d be happy to provide fuzzy socks for anyone who needed them. Sunny wanted to make sure that everyone felt welcome, and the conversation then ensued about what is proper guest etiquette when attending dinner parties. With the holiday season upon us, I thought, why not write an article, because at the end of the day, it’s all about clarity of communication and expectations. 

Hot topic—shoes in a home. Now, some of you may be fine with having shoes in your home, while others are not (a personal preference, of course). I was raised in a very traditional Indian home, and shoes were never allowed in our homes. Hence, naturally, when we host a party, I will usually inform all the attendees in advance that we are a “no shoes home”—so, ladies, leave the Louboutin’s at home. Now not everybody does this. What to do? First of all – Ladies, whenever attending a dinner party always make sure that you have a pair of socks that are cute and match your outfit in your bag. Men, you should always wear nice socks to a dinner party. This way you are fine either way. 

Now, when you walk into the home, the first thing you should do is check if the host is wearing shoes or not. That’s a clear indicator for the etiquette of the home. Even if you are entering with friends, and maybe someone starts to walk in with shoes, if the host is not wearing them, neither should you. In fact, you should probably tap on your friend’s shoulder and tell them to remove their shoes. If there is a pile of them by the door, that’s a clear giveaway and let’s not put the host in an awkward position of having to ask you. They have already been busy getting ready for the party, let’s not make them uncomfortable by having them ask you to remove your shoes. 

As a host, I have a bin of fuzzy socks and slippers that I put by the door for anyone that needs them. They are all brand new, (never used – eww!) and are for the guests to take with them at the end of the night. We all know our friends, so if you have been to a party at my house before, respect the rules and dress appropriately. 

Jackets should be hung up in a coat closet if one is available. Let’s please not make a mess on the couch or tables. 

If you have any food allergies or restrictions, tell the host at least a week in advance, if possible. Don’t just show up and say you aren’t going to eat—that’s just rude. Some may think having the host accommodate food allergies is not fair—not me. If you like to host parties, you want to make sure everyone enjoys and we, Indians, love to feed people. When I know someone is gluten-free, I’ll make sure that I order gluten-free naans so that they can enjoy the butter chicken with everyone else. It’s the small things that matter.  

Speaking of bathrooms, please clean up after yourself. Don’t leave it in a mess. If the waste basket is overflowing, be kind and inform the host. Don’t allow your towels to fall on the floor.  

Don’t forget, you should always take a gift. I, for one, love to take desserts. Some people like to bring with them bottles of liquor. Never arrive empty-handed.  

When is the right time to leave? Now, this depends on how close you are with your friends hosting the party. If you are besties, you should be the last one to leave after you have helped her clean up, and should be taking a bag full of leftovers with you (good friends share the calories 😊 ) If you are not a bestie, then when you start to see others trickle out, it’s time to go. Usually, all guests leave within an hour or so of each other.  

And finally, while this article may seem all about party etiquette, in fact, these principles apply to our work meetings as well: 

  1. Communicate what the rules are for your team—how do you like deliverables reported, what process should people follow to bring up concerns. Over communicate the do’s and don’ts so that you can have productive meetings.  
  2. Be organized. Coming prepared with all your items in an acceptable format, including any barriers, will allow you to address issues in an organized manner. 
  3. If there are any rate limiting issues that will impact your ability to execute, inform your team before you start the project, or provide enough notice. Don’t advise the last minute. 
  4. If you see a mess, say something, don’t just walk past it, and definitely don’t contribute to it. 
  5. Always bring the gift of a solution to any problem you are bringing up. 
  6. Know when it’s the right time to move along. Don’t go down rabbit holes with items that won’t produce value, make sure we do not linger too long and get the job done.  

The next time you attend a party, or team meeting, remember your etiquette and have some fun. Being a good guest, or team member, is all about good manners both at home and work. 

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