Dinner guests can make or break a party. They can stir up conflict or compatibility.

When people attend a holiday gathering or dinner party they don’t expect to be exposed to negativity or uncivil discourse. They want to eat, laugh, and forget all their troubles.

As a host, it can be challenging to control what your guests may say or do. Especially if drugs or alcohol have been consumed in abundance.

As a guest, there is an unspoken obligation to add to the ambiance of the gathering, not spoil it.

1. The politically-charged conversations: In this era of incivility and volatility when it comes to discussing politics, I advise the host to consider asking their guests to refrain from discussing politics, as well as other emotionally-charged topics. Many people have very deep-rooted viewpoints, making it difficult to hold a spirited conversation with someone of an opposing view. Sadly, this can become very personal and very nasty; ruining the evening for everyone.

What can you do?

– Post signs: No Politics Zone. There is no guarantee your guests will comply.

– Email reminder: A day before the gathering, send out a “We’re looking forward to seeing you.” Include a reminder about “topics to avoid.”

– Interrupt: When you see or hear a conversation descending into a vicious verbal pit, approach and change the subject. If necessary, make up a reason to break it up, asking one of the conversationalists to help you in the kitchen.

2. The vegan lifestyle and other dietary practices: Sharing why you became a vegan, why you adopted a new way of eating, or how it has improved your health, is acceptable to most people, even intersting. However, it is not acceptable if you follow it with a lecture on how shameful their lifestyle choices are.

What can you do?

– As the host, having a variety of dishes. This ensures your guests will find something to nibble on.

– As a guest, happily extend the offer to bring a dish or two that fit in with your lifestyle. Make enough to share. Or eat beforehand.

3. Personal news flash: Don’t intentionally plan or blurt out news about a fringe-career, your decision to divorce, or a major lifestyle shift at someone else’s party. If you’re planning to propose marriage or announce your pregnancy, consult the host in advance. If they aren’t on board, respect their decision. It’s inappropriate to use the occasion (at someone else’s expense) to celebrate your news–not your party.

What can you do?

– Once it’s blurted, leave it alone. If you’re seen chastising the headliner, it can make you look like a killjoy.

– If you’re still irked the next day, contact them, and share your displeasure. Their reaction can go either way.

4. The know-it-all: There is almost always one guest in the crowd who has [or thinks they have] a superior knack for home-decór, a better recipe because they took a cooking class from an almost famous chef, or chimes in on any subject as a wanna-be expert. Worse is when they corner you and go on and on.

What do you do?

– Listen, smile, politely nod, and after a few minutes, excuse yourself.

– Lead them to a new group. Confidently say, “Let’s go over and talk to Consuelo and Mike.” And just start walking.

Final thoughts: If children or teens are present, what are they learning from you? Self-control or out-of-control?

We all have our quirks. I believe that we can choose to overlook some of them, as I hope, others will overlook mine.

Etiquette Expert, Author, Media Source  | Actor

Serving as an expert source for media. Imparting advice to businesses, private sessions, and the film industry. Available to hold virtual or in-person session to prepare individuals/groups for job interviews, dining out, improving communication skills.

Film industry:  Fine-tune actors’ etiquette skills for roles. Bilingual (Spanish/Mexican). Certified COVID Compliance Officer.


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