Melissa Penfold has some advice for people who want to be invited back.
GOOD GUESTS are invited everywhere because they give an evening zip. They are congenial, undemanding, thoughtful and entertaining, good at small talk, witty, clever at picking up small clues, lling awkward silences, making people feel comfortable and keeping the mood light. If you’re a perfect guest you’ll be out all the time. You’ll never have to cook again. Here are the rules: DO NOT ARRIVE EARLY It is rude. Walk around the block, go and pick up some fresh owers, anything. DON’T BE LATE Be upfront with the host about your ETA. Don’t give minute-to-minute updates about ctitious taxis or phantom traf c jams. Also, give the host permission to proceed without you, or if you’re going to be really late, ask if it’s better if you don’t come. BE THOUGHTFUL Don’t bring subpar, last-minute wine to dinner parties. As much of a no-brainer you may think the bottle of wine-as-tribute is, therein lies its downfall: very little thought. DON’T PRESSURE YOUR HOSTS to serve your bottle of wine – unless it really is an amazing treat. Champagne is a foolproof gift, as it won’t interfere with the meal. DO NOT BRING SOMEONE unless you have cleared it with the host rst. Even if it is not a seated dinner, it is not a barn dance. Likely it will be ne, but it’s not your call. DON’T RUSH IN and let the words “Can I use your phone charger?” be your opening line. WORK THE ROOM Put in the hard yards when it comes to socialising. Remember people’s names and what they do. Laugh at anecdotes, don’t get worked up about politics, and steer stormy conversations into calm waters. RESPECT THE SEATING PLAN Yes, you may have been put next to total strangers, the weird uncle, the CEO with the wandering hands, but you’re just going to have to live with it. Name-place moving is very bad form. SPLUTTER IN PRIVATE If you need to blow your nose or have a thorough cough, trot around the corner. LET YOURSELF BE A GUEST Pitching in is admirable if the situation requires, but it can often become awkward. Offer to help, but don’t insist. People who hang around chatting slow things down in the kitchen when they should be animating the dinner table. THERE IS A TIME AND PLACE FOR INSTAGRAM It is attering for guests to want to post pictures of a party, but keep your phone away, at least at the table.
1 LM Home ‘Cambridge’ white cotton napkin, POA, lmhome.com 2 Pol Roger Vintage Champagne, $120, danmurphys.com.au 3 Wedgwood Vera Wang ‘Jardin’ placesetting, $129/4-piece, ‘Duchesse’ crystal goblet, $149/set of two, ‘Harrow’ cutlery, $199/16-piece set, ‘Folia’ vases, from $99.95, wedgwood.com.au. Rattan placemat, $39.95, and linen napkin, $22, suzieandersonhome.com 4 ‘Fritillary Butter y’ notelets, $42/box of 10, smythsons.com 5 Montblanc Starwalker ‘Urban Spirit’ fountain pen, POA, montblanc.com