Cocktail Party Etiquette for the Host:
How to indicate that you don’t want children at the party? Cocktail party etiquette would suggest 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.
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 a 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 the answer above to this question. If your host unexpectedly asks you to remove shoes (which is rude), it is, in this case, you’re right to politely say, “I’d really prefer to leave them on if you don’t mind.”
Do you have additional Cocktail Party Etiquette tips? Let me know in the comments below.