The first rule of hosting a dinner or drinks party is always make sure there's enough booze. No one wants to be a stingy host and worst of all, you don't want to end up relying on the bottles your friends have brought round. That's if they've arrived with anything at all...
No matter what the occasion or how well you know the hosts, the next rule in party etiquette is one for the guests - never turn up empty-handed. Here's why:
1. Throwing a party or cooking for friends in a flat can be tough. There are drinks, music, nibbles and dinner to think about - and that's before the issue of space has been tacked. (Inviting more than two people round to hang out in a tiny flat with only one sofa and four chairs requires a serious furniture overhaul.) Even if you've never been to the host's home before, some thought will have gone into a table plan at the very least. That definitely deserves a bottle of wine.
2. If you're going round for dinner, your friend has probably spent at least three hours thinking about, preparing and cooking the food. Dinner parties require time, effort and concentration. Everyone wants to impress, after all. Okay, he or she might not be a domestic god or goddess but that's not the point. Someone has just done something nice for you. Turning up empty-handed doesn't exactly say "thanks".
3. You're drinking free booze. With any luck, the hosts will have a well-stocked fridge. But if you turn up without a contribution, it just looks rude. And stingy.
4. Etiquette works both ways. You can't expect your friends to bring anything round to yours, if you don't do the same for them.
5. No one wants resentful friends. The host might say you it's OK not to bring anything, but it's not. Ignore any message that says "don't worry, I've got it under control" and stop off to buy something on your way round. Flowers, chocolate, wine, gin. It's the thought that counts.
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