Five ways to be the perfect party guest


Good party etiquette requires attention to three golden rules: Know yourself, know your host and know your crowd.

Whether you're a social climber or working the backyard-barbecue circuit, you're probably versed in basic social convention -- but follow a few guidelines about playing nice, looking fabulous and getting yourself noticed, and suddenly you're on everyone's A list.

1. Dress the part.

Being a good guest is merely playing a role. Prepare for your performance by selecting an appropriate costume -- for who can sparkle while wearing the wrong shoes? If you really have no clue what kind of soiree you'll be attending, simply call your host or hostess and ask about the dress code beforehand. Don't go overboard: The three flashiest people at any party invariably get mocked (see rule number four, below).

2. Bring a gift.

Arriving at small gatherings with a mid-priced bottle of wine or a fabulous floral arrangement demonstrates basic respect and laudable decorum. But remember: Propriety dictates that you bring, not that you partake. Don't insist that your host open your bottle of bubbly immediately. Instead, graciously accept whatever beverages are already on hand.

3. Make eye contact.

Locking looks with the right someone might make an evening -- or even a lifetime. But use caution, or you'll end up trapped in punch-bowl hell feigning appreciation for the bore who's got you cornered for an hour of discussion about "Star Trek." It takes a bit of trial and error, but you can master the art of purposeful eye contact that communicates in a flash whether or not you'd like to follow up with an up-close-and-personal meeting. Seem rude? Read on.

4. Get snarky.

Witty repartee is just fine for rank-and-file socializers, but well-timed sassiness with just a hint of mean can transport you from social serf to party aristocracy. A snide offhand comment about the ungraceful guest causing a ruckus is just the thing to lighten the mood of a room. As with all good ideas, moderation is key. No one likes a bitter Betty, so snark selectively.

5. Work the room.

Even if you take a date to your event, don't cling. Socialize as a couple, and don't let yourselves monopolize a conversation, even if you're talking two-on-one. Better yet, break away and mingle to allow others to learn of your charms. It's party-friendly behavior -- and it gives your partner time to recognize how dazzling you are and feel extremely lucky, to boot.

Written and originally posted by Andrea Clark

Photo: Getty Images