• Lisa Plancich

Arriving Early for a Holiday Party

Updated: Nov 21


arriving early to a party etiquette
Sure you should arrive early? Please be prepared to help.

If you find yourself with a few spare moments before arriving at a party this Holiday Season, consider your options before ringing that doorbell. Instead of barging in early, you could...

  • Pick up a hostess gift. #hostessgifts

  • Check in on a friend via text or phone call.

  • Nothing? Then go ahead and knock on that door. Just be prepared to offer, and assist, with the party prep.

party guest etiquette
Martha Stewart makes it look easy. Truthfully, parties are a lot of work.

Until you throw multiple parties, you won’t know that all the real visually appealing prep happens 15 minutes before the festivities are scheduled to begin. After watching way too many episodes of Martha Stewart, many party goers are under the assumption that pulling off a party with minutes to spare is an absolute snap. No one ever considers that Martha and Snoop Dog have a TON of assistants and producers on hand to do all the leg work all so that the hosts make it look effortless while never breaking a sweat. This, dear readers, is completely untrue.


party guest etiquette
If your host hasn't finished getting dressed, offer to help with party prep

I mean, of course your host(ess) is dressed and those uncomfortable party shoes are on their feet, right?!? All the pre-made items are out of the fridge and artfully displayed. The perfect playlist is at the correct volume and no one is arguing with Alexa to either turn the music up, or down. The ice has been located in the back of the freezer, ripped opened, noisily poured into a metal bucket and ALL the booze and mixers have been squished in and around the cubes. Of course their lipstick is on and everything in its place. We all witnessed this on Real Network, HGTV and Martha Stewart, and if it happened there so effortlessly, it HAS to be real....


guest party prep etiquette
Can you help your host with party prep? Then get to work!!!

Sadly, this is not going to ever be the case. Those who entertain regularly realize, and know, how important those final minutes can be to throw a memorable gathering. So when you find yourself running early and consider arriving at a party before you are expected, ask yourself if there is a specific start time? Was a beginning time listed on the invitation? Did your host say something to the effect, “I’ll see you at 7:00?” If the answer is yes, then resist the desire to ring the doorbell early.


party guest etiquette
Arriving early to a party? DON'T talk on your phone or ask for a drink!!

If you do, in fact, knock on the door, or ring that bell, before the party is set to begin, there are some specific things you definitely should NOT do. Whether significantly early, or even within 30 seconds prior to the start time, don’t:

  • Ask for a drink

  • Ask someone to take your coat

  • Start eating the food while it is still being prepped and brought out

  • Sit on the couch and talk on your cell (you could have done that outside or in your car/Uber)

  • Sit on the couch, or on the bar stool in the middle of the island where all the food is being set out and displayed while texting and/or scrolling through social media.


party guest etiquette
If you arrive early, offer to help, maybe by pouring your host a pre-party sip

There are, however, many things you CAN do if you walk through that door before the festivities are supposed to begin. If you arrive early be prepared to:

  • Acknowledge being early, and apologize.

  • Offer to help with open arms. There’s nothing worse than someone crossing their arms and asking, “Can I help?” Your posture alone is saying that help is the last thing you want to do.

  • Jump in and do something like unload the trays in the fridge and ferry them to their final destination.

  • Find the bar and offer to make your host a drink

  • If you have arrived with a hostess gift, find out where to put it and place it there. If you have flowers, put them in a vase. Offer to open wine bottles or light candles.

  • Get to work. If the host is flustered while acting like there’s nothing left to do, again, find ice, grab bottles and place in cooler and/or buckets, offer to slice/dice/cut/display/etc.

With the general busyness of our lives we all tend to run a bit late. While running early is something we all strive for, arriving early for an event in a home, isn't always the best idea.


If you find yourself being one of the fortunate few who have a few spare moments, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do before ringing that doorbell early. Did you pick up a hostess gift? Please read my article on Holiday Gifts for the Host and Hostess. Do you have a call to make? If there’s nothing left to do, then go ahead and knock on that door. Just be prepared to assist with the party prep in whatever way you can.

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