Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

Welcome back, social media! I’m not referring to the means of communicating electronically or in print; I am welcoming the return of being able to socialize while seeing mouths and exchanging smiles, hugs and handshakes. It is an exciting time, and I hope that having guests in our homes again will be part of the rejuvenation of this ages old form of social media.

With that in mind, I have some reminders for those occasions when we are guests at a meal or party.

Arrive either at the time expected, or between 5 and 15 minutes after. Do not arrive early. Your host may not know what to do with you, if you do. If you are going to be more than 15 minutes late, call to tell him your E.T.A.

Although your children might be adorable, do not bring them unless they are specifically mentioned in the invitation.

If you bring flowers, it is easier for the hostess if they are already in a vase or pot.  Having to find the right vase and then arrange cut flowers can make even the most unflappable hostess feel flappable.

Because there are an astonishing number of “suggestions” (more accurately referred to as rules) relating to dining table etiquette, I won’t list them. However, please email me at the address below if you need tips in that area.

Don’t rush off after the last bite of a meal, unless you have already told your host you must do so. Deciding when to leave is a bit like deciding which numbers to choose to win a jackpot. If conversation drags, or your host starts yawning, say your adieus. If your host encourages you to stay after you announce your intentions, do stay a few minutes longer if it is convenient. An hour to an hour-and-a-half after the end of the meal is a good guideline.

Apparently a family member of mine, who has made her final departure, was good at sending mixed messages at the end of a visit. She is rumored to have told a guest who was wearing out his welcome, “Here’s your hat. What’s your hurry?”

Social custom, and more importantly your sincere gratitude, dictate that you express your appreciation to your hostess in the next few days, especially if you were the guest of honor. A phone call, or even an e-mail (no texting please) would be better than nothing. But a hand-written note qualifies your being placed at the top of the next guest list.

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at