Are You Following These Holiday Party Etiquette Rules?

Now that you know what to wear to your next holiday bash, a quick etiquette refresh couldn’t hurt. After all, nothing ruins a cute outfit more easily than bad manners. Keep reading for the eight rules you should definitely be following this holiday season!

1. RSVP—immediately.

It’s crucial to RSVP promptly, both as a sign of respect to your host and to help them plan for the correct number of guests. If you RSVP yes and your plans change, it’s courteous to let them know if you’ll be late or can no longer make it.

2. Be on time.

As a general rule of thumb, arrive at or shortly after (15 minutes or so) the time stated on the invitation. DO NOT ARRIVE EARLY. It will burden your host, who may still be getting ready after a long day of preparation.

3. Dress the part.

Follow the dress code. If you’re going to back-to-back parties in one night and can’t change in between, dress for the more formal event, since, as a general rule of thumb, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Check out our handy guide if you need more advice!

4. Come bearing the right gift.

It’s best not to show up empty-handed, but when choosing a gift, try not to bring something that creates more work for the host, like flowers that aren’t already in a vase. Some host-friendly ideas include a coffee table book, a bottle of wine, or a plated dessert.

5. Say hello.

This is especially important at a big party where everyone can get lost in the shuffle. Seek out the host to say hello and thank you for the invitation. This should happen shortly after arriving, to avoid awkwardly encountering them for the first time while you’re helping yourself at the buffet.

6. Offer to help. 

Unless there are waiters and servers around, always offer to help the host. Trust us: Even saving them just one trip to and from the kitchen will be appreciated.

7. Don’t bring a surprise guest.

If your invitation comes with a plus one, feel free to bring someone, but be sure to RSVP for that person. If you’re not offered a plus one but would like to bring someone, politely inquire if you feel the host might be open to the idea. Just don’t show up with an uninvited friend or significant other, which can be particularly frustrating if it’s a seated dinner.

8. Stay off your phone.

In general, your phone should be put away—and silenced—at parties. If you’re at a seated dinner, don’t even think about it. If you absolutely must make or receive a call, politely excuse yourself from the table for a moment.

All brushed up on your etiquette rules? Now go ahead and shop some of our favourite party pieces below!


Since starting as an intern back in 2013, Nicole Akhtarzad Eshaghpour has held several roles here at Who What Wear, and she is currently Editor-at-Large. It was a less expected route, seeing as she was graduating from business school at USC when this all began, but it has turned out to be the best one for her. Fast-forward to 2024, and she's moved to NYC from her hometown of Beverly Hills and spends her workdays a little differently from when she was an intern starting out. Currently, she focuses on a weekly mélange of shopping content. As far as her personal style goes, she's largely drawn to classic pieces and neutral basics but will always make an exception for something colorful, printed, or bejeweled as long as it's deemed worthy enough. After all, the only thing she loves more than a good party is dressing up for one. On weekdays, she can usually be found at home eating something delicious for dinner and trying to force her husband to watch Summer House.