From The Archive

Party Etiquette

A short guide to a long social season

We realise it’s only September – almost three months prior to pigs-n-blankets becoming our primary source of protein. So publishing our Party Etiquette Guide now puts us at the risk of being “that neighbour” – the one who thinks being the first on their street to ignite their holiday light show signals their superior organisational skills and dedication to old St Nick. We realise all this. Yet we are also firm believers in self-improvement. After all, we no longer want to be the one to arrive empty-handed 30 minutes early, only to then enquire about the whereabouts of a dead husband, down a full bottle of Scotchy-Scotchy-Scotch and dance the funky-chicken, solo, to Elvis Presley. 

That said, we do love a party here at MR PORTER, and we rarely turn down the chance to raise a glass (or three) even with the funky bunch in finance. From weddings to house warmings, the modern man has to attend all sorts of parties year-round, and with an increasingly hectic calendar comes a whole host of social pitfalls. It’s with this in mind we tasked a varsity merrymaker, GQ’s Style Guy and author of How to be a Man, Mr Glenn O’Brien, with navigating the chartered yet sometimes unpredictable waters of party-going. Watch our film above and study his tips below to ensure that no matter what the event – be it Nana and Pop-Pop’s wedding anniversary or a shin-dig at your boss’ swanky new pad – you are sure to behave as stylishly as you look.

Ten tips for the modern party-goer

If you are invited to a party then partay! Talk to everyone. Meet new people, renew old acquaintances, increase the amount of wit in the world. Cliques are out of place. Mopery and wallflowerism are grounds for banishment. Mix, revel and let yourself go.

Karaoke is a social contract not to be entered into spontaneously or individually. Do not entertain (unless you are a talented host) except by the host's request, public demand or acclamation. The host is the CEO of the party and good guests are good followers. Those who consider themselves the life of the party, are often its demise.

Don't come empty-handed. Wine is almost always welcome, but don't expect it to be served that evening. If you want to drink what you brought, your best bet is champagne. Flowers are a play-it-by-instinct thing. Don't be hurt if they wind up in the loo.

A party is a truce zone. You may encounter enemies there, but consider them to be under the protection of a white flag. If you feel an irresistible impulse to punch someone, quietly ask them to step outside. If they do, lock the door.

Desperately chic New Yorkers are always party hopping, expecting the next one to be better. They're usually wrong. Chances are, you're leaving party A, when the cool people at party B, are headed to A. Give a party a chance.

It's rude to be on time. Arrive at least 15 minutes after the announced time – even then you might find your hosts are still getting dressed. It's OK to stay late if everyone including the hosts are clearly having a good time, but if they suddenly have pyjamas on, get the hell out.

Don't get drunk. If you aren't drunk, you are far less likely to talk or laugh too loud, wax boring, become hostile, spill something, come on to someone ineligible, fall or vomit. If you do find yourself drunk, go straight home in a back seat.

The most interesting person at the party is probably the one nobody is talking to. Why? Too beautiful, too intimidating, too smart for the room? Reach out! You have nada to lose and may meet a genius.

A party is a sort of mini-holiday, a fast fiesta where guards are down, hopes are up and unlikely meetings of minds occur. You can social climb or delve into the depths with the dregs. Ask yourself, "Who would Jesus talk to?" Or Lenny Bruce.

A political party is not that kind of party. Politics, religion and other inherently confrontational topics are best avoided at an occasion intended to generate pleasure and foster good will. Light-hearted gossip, jesting, badinage, repartee and drollery, as well as light, quasi-meteorological topics of discussion are in order. Check your gravitas at the door.