Cocktail Party Etiquette for the Host:
How to indicate that you don’t want children at the party? There are a few options for this, mostly revolving around the invitation. If you’re designing an actual paper invitation to be mailed out (or even just the image of the invitation to be emailed or texted), it’s acceptable to write “Adults only please” in italics below the RSVP line. If you’re sending out an electronic invitation through a website (think Evite or Paperless Post) where you can write a message to guests, you could write something clever to indicate that children are not invited, something along the lines of “We’re looking forward to toasting our friends at this party exclusively for the grown-ups,” or even simpler, “We’re excited to see everyone at this adult party.” The one thing you don’t want to say is “No children” or “Children not allowed” as that has more of a negative and offensive connotation.
Cocktail Party Etiquette for the Guest:
Is it polite to ask the host for a tour of their home? Generally, no, it is not polite to ask for a tour. A person’s home is private and you should not put your host on the spot. An exception to this would be at a party that is specifically a “housewarming party” which is generally only held for close friends only, and, in that case, the host will typically have the house on display. The other exception would be if you are attending a party at a house of architectural or historic significance. But even then, it might still be considered rude to explicitly ask for a tour. Instead, you could say something like “What a beautiful home! I love the architecture and the interior decor” and then see if your host offers a tour, which you could then enthusiastically accept.
When I’m invited to a party, do I need to bring a gift? This is on a case by case basis. When you SHOULD: 1.) When the party is held in the host’s home, and 2.) When are you attending a party outside of someone’s home in celebration of a guest of honor (birthday party, retirement, 50th anniversary, shower, etc.). When it’s NOT expected: 1.) When you are attending a party outside of someone’s home and it is not a celebration for a guest of honor, and 2.) When the party is held in the host’s home but the invitation says “In lieu of gifts”. When you should bring a gift, what kind of gift to bring? If you know the host or guest of honor drinks, then a bottle of wine is always a welcome and safe bet. Otherwise, fresh flowers or something for the home such as a scented candle is wonderful gift for any occasion.
What do you do if the party host has a shoes off policy? Do you have to follow it? Reconsider your choice of friends! Just kidding! Kind of, haha. But see answer above to this question. If your host unexpectedly asks you to remove shoes (which is rude), it is, in this case, your right to politely say, “I’d really prefer to leave them on if you don’t mind.”
Maggie Oldham is a Modern Etiquette Coach and etiquette expert. Through her workshops, speaking engagements, and blog, she provides expert etiquette advice for successfully and confidently navigating modern life situations for the 21st century — from upscale dinners and chic pool parties, to business meetings and everyday social occasions. Her approach to etiquette is unique in that she has expertly updated traditional etiquette advice to apply specifically to today’s contemporary society.
She completed her etiquette training and education at the Institut Villa Pierrefeu Finishing School in Glion, Switzerland where she received certificates in The European Art of Dining and International Etiquette and Protocol. She received an Etiquette Consultant Certificate from IAP Career College and is currently a member of the International Association of Professional Etiquette Consultants.
Maggie has appeared on CBS and FOX News, and featured in USA Today, Men’s Health, Real Simple, MSN, Yahoo! Celebrity, Reader’s Digest and more.