No one wants to be "that" person at the holiday party — you know, the one who did something totally rude and didn't even realize it. "The season can bring a lot of stress between shopping, hosting family, cooking meals, decorating, and travel," says , etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. "People are overwhelmed and their mind tends to wander, often resulting in rude behavior they might not normally engage in." Check out this list of festive faux pas to avoid:
It's hard to estimate traffic and travel times, but do your best to arrive at the start of the party or soon after, not before, says Brett Galley, director of special events at , a party planning company. Walking in super early can cause your host to feel rushed.
You should never show up empty-handed, but avoid bringing something that will create more work for your host, says Galley. Choose a dish or dessert that's ready to serve, or go with a hostess gift.
It's impolite to start wandering the premises on your own. "If you need a restroom, inquire before traipsing through their home on a mission," says Sharon Schweitzer, international etiquette expert and founder of . And if the host doesn't indicate that the entire home is open, then consider upstairs or downstairs off limits.
Even if the host is your BFF, resist the urge to cling, says Gottsman. "Don't monopolize the host's time. If there are a large amount of guests, allow him or her to engage with everyone."
Be mindful about table manners, especially for formal affairs. Don't nibble off someone else's plate or graze on the buffet line, says Gottsman. "Be cognizant of the type of party you're attending," she says.
If your host encourages you to take leftovers home at the end of the evening, by all means, pack up a small sampling. What's not okay? Showing up with your own containers, or taking back what's left of the wine you brought – it happens more often than you'd think!
Holiday parties are for mingling and speaking with those you know and new people, says Brouwer. "Texting or answering your cell phone in front of others is rude."
Making negative comments about the food, décor, music selection, or other guests is hardly in keeping with the holiday spirit. If you don't have something nice to say, well, you know the rest…
If you see your host is getting overwhelmed or isn't spending enough time with guests, offer to lend a helping hand, says Gottsman, especially if it's a more intimate gathering.
Be conscious about the photos and comments you post on social media about the gathering, warns Brouwer. You don't want to inadvertently offend the host, or post a photo that is unflattering to another guest.
Always greet the host/hostess at the beginning of the event, and say thank you at the end, says Schweitzer. "It's easy to find them, say hello, and express your gratitude for the invitation. When you leave, spend 2-3 minutes to share a sincere thought about how much you enjoyed the cuisine, music, company, or décor," she says.