How to be the perfect guest this Christmas
As Christmas draws closer, knowing what to bring with you to those many engagements is important.
You don’t want to be turning up empty-handed on Christmas or Christmas Eve because, if we are being truthful, being a good guest is more than just showing up on time.
Katy Baxter, Corporate Affairs Director at luxury food hampers business Baxters of Scotland advises that there are a lot of expectations that can come with being the perfect guest, but it can be easier to achieve than you realise.
With that in mind, here are four tips from Katy to help ensure you are the perfect guest this Christmas.
1) Bring the perfect gift
Christmas is a time to spend with your loved ones, and your family and friends will be delighted to have you there, but for that extra special touch, you should be bringing them a gift, and a contribution, for hosting the big day.
The perfect gift doesn’t have to be something big at all. In fact, your hosts will probably appreciate anything you bring as a little “thank you”. But one big ‘no’ for gift-giving etiquette is re-gifting. Not only does it mean you’ve put no thought into what your host might want, but it might land you in a tricky situation if you accidentally re-gift to the original gifter!
Bringing something both warming and practical might be your best bet. Luxury food hampers can give your host a comforting gift while making sure they don’t need to spend all of Boxing Day cooking, too. This can be a special touch that any host can use; even if you don’t know your host too well, just make sure you know their dietary requirements.
Presentation is everything at Christmas, so don’t forget to wrap your gift. Even if it is simply a bottle of their favourite drink, putting the extra effort into wrapping it nicely can make your host feel that extra bit special.
You should also bring something that contributes to the meal – after all, they’re hosting the big day. But remember, you don’t want to be stepping on the chef’s feet, so make sure you’re bringing something that adds, rather than competes, to the meals. Conserves or chutney can be added to the sweet layout later, or a bottle of something your host will love.
2) Pace the feast – and the drink!
Besides the gift and turning up on time, being the perfect guest also involves acting on your best behaviour – that means avoiding the family fights that 5% of Brits say they experience at Christmas. Whether tussling over the final pigs in blankets or having one too many drinks, pacing yourself is essential.
There is usually plenty to eat on Christmas, and you don’t want to be going home feeling unwell, so make sure you’re pacing yourself when it comes to the feast. Make sure your host is sitting down comfortably at the table before you have your first forkful so you can all enjoy the meal together.
If you’re a fussy eater, let your host know beforehand so that they can avoid putting something you don’t like on your plate. Most hosts will be willing to adjust your portions and plating to make sure you’re enjoying your meal as much as possible.
Instead of bringing just one bottle to the party, make sure you bring enough for everyone to share. After all, everyone might want to try. And check with your host beforehand in case they have anything specific in mind that they would like.
Bringing more than one bottle subtly hints to your host that you want to drink some, while making sure they still have a bottle to enjoy themselves when all have quietened down.
Part of being a good guest is making sure you’re sharing the Christmas spirit, so why not try your hand at making festive cocktails (and mocktails) for the party by giving your host a helping hand in the kitchen. This way you can keep the party entertained, and hydrated, while giving your host some time to themselves.
3) Offer to help
Another way to be the best guest is by offering to help. This will depend on your host, as some might have everything under control alone, but offering to help will always keep you in the good books. After the Christmas dinner, you can offer to help clear and wash the dishes – letting your host enjoy some socialising time or at least get everything cleared a little bit quicker.
Every family has a designated wrapping paper collector on Christmas, so make sure you’re at the ready with a bag to collect all the pieces of rubbish. This is especially useful for families and Christmas parties with children who want to dive straight into their toys and discard the packaging. Don’t forget to separate the recyclable materials so all your host has to do is pop each item in the bin.
4) Remember leftover etiquette
You can’t be expected to leave without taking something with you. Some hosts will have goodie bags or leftover Christmas dinner or party food to hand out at the end of the night. While a cold leftover sandwich might not be on your list this Boxing Day, making sure you accept your host’s leftover offers is important.
And if you’ve been a good enough guest to be invited back soon, taking any Tupperware back clean, dry and unstained is a great way to ensure your friends or family think of you as the perfect guest.
Christmas can sometimes be stressful, from deciding what to buy someone to knowing how to politely say “no” to sprouts – but being a good guest doesn’t have to be difficult. Enjoy the season with your nearest and dearest and remember to bring something extra special for your host to say, “thank you for having me”.