If you are a guest at a party, have respect for your host and the other guests by not drinking too much alcohol.
Manners always matter. Rude is ever rueful. And the "anything goes" era has up and gone.
Even with e-vites and other technological advances, comportment is again important when it comes to parties, for both host and guest.
Since a blip just after the middle of the last century, when "let it all hang out" roiled the world of party protocol, social graces are in, and bad form is so five minutes ago.
It's not hard to do the right things when it comes to holding or attending a social gathering. With a few tips on decorum and a dollop of common sense, anyone can elicit a hearty "Mama raised him right."
For the host
A "save the date" missive, via email, is never a bad idea if you're more than a month out.
Nail down whom you want to invite. Try to avoid inviting some but not all of a particular group (workmates, clients, a book club), lest feelings get hurt.
Send invitations at least two weeks out, preferably longer.
If someone has not RSVP'd by the allotted date, call them. This lets them know you really want them to come, and hey, the invite really might have gotten lost in the mail.
If guests volunteer to bring something, let them, unless it just doesn't fit with the type of party you have in mind. And nail down exactly what the item and quantity will be.
Let all guests know about any parking issues in your neighborhood. (And if you can figure out the snow emergency rules, please let us know.)
If you're having a dinner party for more than six, devise a seating arrangement to maximize guest enjoyment and interaction. Place cards are a nice touch.
Have plenty of soap and hand towels accessible in the bathroom.
Isolate your pets. Between the animals' potential behavior and your guests' potential allergies, this is not the time for intermingling.
Get all the preparations done at least a half-hour in advance so you can have a few moments to relax. That's a courtesy to yourself and also allows you to:
Meet all guests at the door. No exceptions. Don't make anyone walk through what might be a roomful of strangers to find you. And smile when you see them -- good vibes and all that.
Have a space for guests to put their coats, purses, umbrellas, etc. Take them -- or designate someone to take them -- to this spot, so they'll know where to find their stuff when they leave. In wintry weather, this often includes a place near the door for shoes (and let guests know if it's OK to keep their shoes on).
In the likely event that some of your guests aren't acquainted, "work the room" by pulling together strangers who might not know they have something in common (sports or travel or small children, maybe; politics or religion, not so much).
Try to find time to talk to everyone, and to not seem distracted when you do. Be on the lookout for guests who seem isolated or uncomfortable.
Try very hard to say goodbye to each guest and thank them for coming. If possible, refer back to a conversation you had earlier in the evening.
If anyone has had too much to drink, get them a cab, a ride with another guest or a bed at your home.
For the guest
RSVP ASAP: The phrase stands for "repondez, s'il vous plaît," but there's no "please" about it. Do it, if possible well before the "deadline" date on the invite. Planning a party is tough enough without knowing how many guests will be there.
If you're not sure how the whole e-vite thing works, call the host. (E-vite is an online invitation and RSVP service.)
Offer to bring something, or to help with prep or cleanup. If the host demurs, bring a gift: chocolate, sparkling or dessert wine, flowers (in a vase or pot), fudge, cocktail napkins, brownies.
This should be a no-brainer, but do not bring guests who were not invited to the party unless you have cleared it with the host.