Be my guest

Did Be my guest make you think of Beauty and the Beast? 

It was the name of the wonderful song Angela Lansbury sang as Mrs. Potts, the teapot, in my favourite animated version.

The song is all about Belle enjoying a delicious and delightfully presented dinner.

Sounds like a party, wouldn’t you say? But an old-fashioned affair, to be certain, because who puts up that much fuss any more?

Well, I’m hear to tell you it’s OK to put up a fuss and make a big deal about hosting, or attending a party. This week, I’m talking about party etiquette. In other words, how to be cool and well-behaved at the same time.

I hope you’ll read on…

A party has two sides – the host and the guest. For it to be successful, everyone must meet certain expectations.

The host is the one in charge of organizing the event and inviting guests who will mix together to form an interesting group.

The guests are responsible for showing up and making an effort to have the kind of good time suitable for the event (as in, you don’t dance on the table if it’s a more reserved kind of evening). 

I’m going to give some tips for both roles, so we will have no excuses not to be fabulous at the next event we attend.


First, you have to make a plan.

  • Organize a group of people you know are likely to get along and have at least a few common interests.
  • Devise an itinerary, so you can prepare the details (food, drinks, entertainment, seating, etc.). Then, when your guests arrive, you are available to socialize.
  • Plan with contingencies. Most of life is about coming up with Plan B, so don’t get stuck if the music won’t play or the dessert doesn’t turn out. Have alternatives up your sleeve, so you can go with the flow.
  • Communicate with your guests. From the invitation to their departure, you want them to know what is expected of them – how they can have the best time.

Second, be gracious and outgoing.

  • As a host, it’s your job to lead the party – make sure people mingle, in part by setting a good example. Do your best to chat with everyone and introduce new friends to other guests. Advise guests of special details, like when a speech is about to start, or when dessert is being served.
  • Remember it’s “showtime." Use your brave face if you get surprised, say with an uninvited guest that tags along. Taking the high road will earn you points and keep the event going smoothly for all.
  • Be attentive and appreciative. If you can help a guest by refreshing their drink or leading them to join a conversation, do so. Be sure to thank people as they leave.

Even if the party you host is a potluck, as the organizer and location host, everyone will look to you to be in charge. Take charge with a positive attitude and you will help ensure everyone has a wonderful time, including you.


The best way to show your appreciation to your host is to be engaged. This helps keep the energy up so everyone is interested and enjoys the event.

  • Confirm your attendance. This is your primary responsibility, so take it seriously. You should reply as soon as possible once you receive an invitation, letting your host know either way if you will attend or not. Then be sure to notify them if your plans change but be sure you commit to your responsibility (don’t say yes if you aren’t really planning on going).
  • Arrive on time and in proper form. We tend to be much more relaxed nowadays, but there are general parameters for dress and behaviour at group gatherings. Make sure you will not make others or yourself uncomfortable by stepping too far outside the box.
  • Just like the host, be gracious. Even if you are not keen on playing a game, if that is the prime activity at the time, join in wholeheartedly to show your support for the host and the event. You may even be surprised at how much fun you have.

Some of those old-fashioned manners work well too:

  • Offer to help out if you can. At a formal event this may not be appropriate but offering to pitch in is a gracious gesture. Whether it’s refilling water pitchers or glasses, or assisting with the clean up at the end of the party, your efforts will always be appreciated.
  • Be polite. Don’t overindulge. If you’re not sure how much is proper, watch others. When in doubt, less is better in this instance, even if you really want that third meatball or piece of cake.
  • Thank your host twice. I don’t mean you should repeat it as you leave – thank them at the end of the event, and then send a note or leave a message after to show your appreciation.

Some of this may seem like overkill, especially if you’re just heading to a friend’s house to watch the game or the latest episode of The Bachelor. 

But trust me, your efforts will be appreciated. You will have a better time, whether as a guest or a host.

As we entertain all those guests coming to the Okanagan this summer, we can knock their socks off. And if you are visiting friends or relatives, you’ll be sure to secure an invitation to return.

After all, look how it turned out for Belle – she ended up the guest of honour.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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