rose_hedgemond__header.jpgLIVING WITH ETIQUETTE

Summertime is the perfect time for youth and adults to practice social graces. Family and friends get together, filling the air with music, laughter and stories. Whether to a boat, beach or the comfort of a backyard, during this time, social invitations abound. However, during this heavy social season, many dread dealing with guests who have social manners less than up to par.  Here are a few quick tips to help you stay clear of the summer social blues.

Arrive on time:  If for any reason you find yourself arriving more than 15 minutes late, a quick phone-call to your host/hostess to apprise of your arrival time is proper and quite respectful. If you are throwing the party, start punctually.

Bring something: Not every event is a potluck. Sometimes a party has a theme and, while your mom’s favorite casserole is always a winner at your events, doesn’t mean the flavor profile fits into the food selections your hostess is offering. Best to ask if you can bring something and, if the hostess says yes, she is now counting on your item. It is always appropriate to bring a hostess gift. I like to bring something personal.

Drink responsibly: Specialty drinks and cocktails are served at many summer social events; however, know when you have reached your limit. Nothing’s wrong with being the life of the party, being friendly and social. Killing the party is what can happen if you had 10 drinks too many.

Come one, come all: Unless your invitation specifically reflects an open invite for anyone and/or states you may bring as many guests as you please, do not take the liberty to show-up at an event with a few dozen of your friends and family. Some social gatherings are open and then there are those events when it’s by invitation only. If you have a special person you would like to bring as company, good courtesy is to phone your host and ask if you may bring a guest. This helps your hostess keep a close-to-accurate attendee count.

Prepare for small children: Do not assume every event is small-child friendly. Most hosts/hostesses will include on the invitation if small children are welcomed. If this detail for some reason is omitted, it is proper to inquire if you may bring your small child or children to the function. This type of communication will not only inform your hostess of the guest count; she can now prepare for her small guests to have an enjoyable time as well.

Eat as much as you like: The buffet event is never the time to pile food on plates which you do not intend to eat and/or take five or 20 “to-go” plates before the party has really even started. Be mindful and respectful about the time and effort the host/hostess has taken to ensure each guest will have more than enough food to eat. And if there’s a special dish you would like to take home … simply ask.

When it’s time to go … go: During most summertime gatherings time has no meaning. However, there are those few occasions when time is a factor. Never wear out your welcome. Always know when the party is dwindling down and if you’re not certain – a good indicator is when you begin to see many of the other guests leave and/or if the invitation reflects a specific time the event would end.

Thank-you goes a long way: Planning and preparing for a summer social event is a lot of work. Taking a few moments to say “Thank you” or, even better, sending a note of thanks, goes a long way. Try to be specific about what you really enjoyed. A hostess relishes such feedback.

Rose Hedgemond is CEO of Avenues of Excellence and an etiquette and social protocol professional. Do you have an etiquette or social protocol question?  Email her at or follow her on Facebook at Rose Hedgemond and Twitter @AOE_IN).