Green Guest Etiquette: The Do's and Don'ts

Green Guest Etiquette: The Do's and Don'ts

Landis Carey
Nov 12, 2010

"The good guest is almost invisible, enjoying him- or herself, communing with fellow guests, and, most of all, enjoying the generous hospitality of the hosts," said Emily Post, the foremost authority on etiquette. Being a good guest can mean many things, but it ultimately depends on the event you are attending. For example, you could be a guest at a small get together of close friends or a guest of a 300-person wedding. In either case, show your green gratitude with the following rules.

Being a fabulous green guest means not only obeying traditional etiquette rules, but also thinking one-step-further. How can you help your host run fewer errands, for example. Or how can you make sure all recyclable materials distributed at the event are, in fact, recycled?

RSVP on Time
Giving your host the most time to plan will save them time and unneeded stress. They will also be able to save gas by batching their errands. Sending your RSVP on time also makes your host feel the event is important to you and that you are looking forward to it as much as they are.

Arrive on Time
Besides being proper etiquette, arriving on time will help you meet fellow guests while people are still quietly mingling. If you are one of the first to arrive, ask if your host needs help setting-up. Help them organize areas where guests can dispose of recycling and trash. This is a very important element of setting-up a party but it is often left to the last minute.

Offer to Help
If you are attending a small get together, offer to pick-up supplies on your way. This will give the host a little more time to prepare, and that is always appreciated. It also reduces the errands they have to run, saving time and gas.

Say Thank You
This is just so obvious, but often forgot. Thank your host as you are leaving, and thank them again with a note or phone call after the event. I've absolutely been guilty of not sending thank you notes in a timely manner and it always makes me feel guilty and not on top of things. So, avoid this anxiety by sending your note the next day. Get this task out of the way while the party is fresh on your mind.

Hostess Gifts
This is actually the only don't on the list and it's not an absolute don't. As a guest you should carefully consider what to bring as a hostess gift. Flowers are best and food and wine are a close runner-up. Flowers say thank you in a way that continues to bring joy to the hostess until it's time to throw them on the compost pile. Food and wine are great options, but be cautious of food allergies. Bringing a traditional hostess gift is not recommended. It's the only don't. Wouldn't you hate to think you may be cluttering their space with unadorned objects that will end-up being discarded? Or even worse: making your host feel guilty about discarding the item?

Wedding Registries
Brides and grooms create their wedding registries for a reason: they need the household items they are registering for. If you are going to purchase something not on a wedding registry, then make sure the item will be loved or it can be returned. Otherwise, these items might end-up being discarded.

Maintain a Small Party Footprint
Think carbon footprint, but for party consumption. Don't gobble-up all of the appetizers or side dishes—take a few appetizers and then move on, leaving enough for everyone. If you get a glass of wine or another drink, keep your glass throughout the evening. This will create less mess and leave your host with fewer glasses to wash.

(Image: Etsy shop The Craft Pantry)

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