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How to be the best guest

How to be the best guest
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Learn how to impress, rather than stress, your host at your next dinner party.

Early arrival? Your host will think you’re rude

Early arrival? Your host will think you’re rude
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The right time to arrive at a dinner party is not a moment before you were invited, according to Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of evergreen etiquette arbiter, Emily Post. In a conversation with Vanity Fair about the dos and don’ts of dinner parties, Post was quoted as imploring all dinner guests to never arrive before the appointed time. “It is rude and it puts your host in an uncomfortable position.”

Here are 7 real-world situations to gauge how good your manners are.

Forgot a hostess gift? You’ll be viewed as a “noob”

Forgot a hostess gift? You’ll be viewed as a “noob”
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As in, “dinner party newbie.” Whenever you’re invited to a dinner party, it’s your duty as a guest to bring a gift to the hostess, according to Post. “Your best bet is flowers already in a vase,” she advises. But if you don’t bring anything, the question on your host’s mind will be, “First time at a dinner party?” Find the right hostess gift with this ultimate hostess gift guide for every occasion.

Here are 17 forgotten manners every parent should teach their child.

Get heated about politics? You’ll be seen as provocative...

Get heated about politics? You’ll be seen as provocative...
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…and not in a good way. While lively conversation may well meander into politics (or religion or sex, for that matter), it can quickly become “inelegant,” Post says. At that point, it’s up to your host to reroute the discussion, but when he or she does, you’ll want to go with it, lest you be viewed as argumentative.

Prevent World War Three at your Christmas dinner with these 8 life hacks.

Brought a dish without being asked? That’s kind of annoying

Brought a dish without being asked? That’s kind of annoying
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Unless your host specifically asked you to bring a dish, you most definitely should not bring a dish with you, says The Washington Post’s Miss Manners. It encroaches on the host’s presumably well-planned menu, at best. At worst, you’ll be seen as a nuisance, as it was with the host who told Miss Manners about the time a guest brought a fruit salad and “commandeered” the kitchen for “the better part of an hour” to prepare it.

Take an etiquette lesson from the Brits on the best way to behave when dining.

If you overdo the booze, you’re burdening your host

If you overdo the booze, you’re burdening your host
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Good parties have good bars, according to Post, but that also means there’s a chance a guest might overdo the booze. And when that happens, it’s a huge responsibility for the host, who may feel obliged to take away the guest’s keys and let the guest stay for the night.

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If that’s your phone on the table, you’re ruining the vibe

If that’s your phone on the table, you’re ruining the vibe
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“Real-life interactions are dulled when a person feels the urge to check their phone,” TIME points out, and the distraction can destroy the vibe of a social interaction. Even the mere presence of your mobile phone on the table during dinner interferes with the ability of those at the table to connect in a meaningful way, according to this study.

Here are 10 mobile phone etiquette rules you should be following but aren’t.

And if you’re actually texting at dinner? Ouch to your host

And if you’re actually texting at dinner? Ouch to your host
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“If you’re having dinner with friends and family, be with them,” writes Cindy Post Senning on EmilyPost.com. “The guideline is that you do not text when you are involved in any type of social interaction – conversation, listening, in class, at a meeting or, especially, at the dinner table. If you really need to communicate with someone who is not at the event – or at the table – excuse yourself, send your message, and then return as soon as you can.” To do otherwise might understandably hurt your host’s feelings.

Helping your host out? You might be a nuisance

Helping your host out? You might be a nuisance
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While it’s certainly admirable to offer to pitch in, say with serving or clearing, it’s important to be mindful of how quickly your efforts can become burdensome to your host. “Pitching in is admirable if the situation requires it, but it can often verge into awkward territory,” notes Lizzie Post. “You can always offer to help out, but you don’t have to insist upon it. You know, you’re not this person’s best friend. Let yourself be a guest. Don’t try to insert yourself into everything.”

Be friendly and open, or make things awkward

Be friendly and open, or make things awkward
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Look around at the other guests at the dinner party, and recognise you all have one thing in common: You’ve been hand-picked by the host to come together for dinner and conversation, according to Saveur magazine. That means your host intended for you to mingle with one another. You have no obligation to make life-long friends, but it would be super-nice for your host and the other guests if you would make a good faith attempt to engage your dinner companions in friendly conversation.

Learn the 6 magic phrases that can save an awkward conversation.

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Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, Reader’s Digest magazine May issue will not be available at its regular on-sale date to our subscribers or through our retail channels in that region. We hope to have the issues available in early June, but this is dependent on when the lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team