Registry Isn't a Dirty Word: Party Etiquette as a Guest for 10 Parties

Melissa Amato

Yay!  You got invited to (fill in event here).  What to wear?  What to bring?  A lot of us are somewhat clueless on what is actually expected of us when we are invited to an event.  It's no fault of your own.  If you weren't raised around a lot of parties or if people didn't teach you, that's ok.  This post is here to help you understand what you need to bring, what you need to wear or not wear, when to show up and should you RSVP.  All of that will be covered below.  

A few basics that apply to all parties below and it's about the two R's ---RSVP and Registry

Always RSVP to each and every party that you are going to.  People have to buy food and drinks for the party and they want to make sure that they have enough.  It doesn't always have to be the formal invitation style-go through the mail-RSVP.  It could be as simple as a text message to someone saying that you will be there.  It is just common courtesy.  

Registry isn't a dirty word but some people find that it is.  When I was coming up with my bridal/baby showers, I had people simply refuse to go off the registry.  It's like they didn't want to be told what to do.  They wanted to rebel against the registry.  So, don't be like them and pick up the registry at the front of the store before you get their gift or find one online and get something off of there or a gift card to that store works just fine.  Then they can get whatever they want!


What to wear?  Usually an outfit that you would wear to church.  They are usually on Sundays so, maybe that is why people wear their church clothes there. 

What to bring?  Something off their baby registry at the store(s) they chose is absolute best.  Gift card or cash if you forgot the gift and need a gift in a pinch.  A gift that is about $20-$30 is sufficient for a regular guest at a baby shower.  If you are a relative, you might want to increase that amount a little bit.  It depends on your budget and how close you are to the guest of honor.

RSVP?  Yes, the host needs to prepare enough food and drink for everyone that is coming. 

When do you show up?  On time and you leave when the invitation says it is over.  Invitation says 1-3 pm, you go at 1 pm and you leave at 3 pm.  The party is over after all the presents have been opened and ooohhed and aaaahhhed over.  Call people or text them if you are going to be longer than 15 min late, there are games scheduled and you don't want to interfere with those.  


What to wear?  Nothing white.  Church dress is acceptable.  The bride usually wears white at her bridal shower. 

What to bring?  Something off the registry.  Gift card or cash are cool too for this gift.  A gift of $25-$50 is good.  It also depends on your relationship to the Bride or Groom.  If this is your sister, I would increase the spending limit.  If this is your co-worker, the $25-$50 is sufficient.  If this is your daughter or son, you might want to get them a larger item off their registry or a large cash gift to help them out for their Shower. 

RSVP?  Yes, the host needs to tell the venue the head count or if they are hosting it at their own house, they need to put together enough food and drink for everyone   

When do you show up?  On time and you leave when the invitation says it is over.  Invitation says 1-3 pm, you go at 1 pm and you leave at 3 pm.  It is usually over when the gifts have been opened.  Call people or text them if you are going to be longer than 15 min late, there are games scheduled and you don't want to interfere with those.  


What to wear?  Something fairly comfortable.  Dressy casual and casual is a good dress code.  Just in case the little ones want you to jump in the bouncy house with them, you will be prepared. 

What to bring?  Some people are doing Amazon registries now and I love it.  Ask the parents before hand to see if the kid needs anything or is just dying for a particular toy.  Maybe you can find it in your neck of the woods and the parents couldn't.  Tip:  Contact the Host/parent before you arrive, they might need you to pick up ice or drinks or something that parent forgot about for the party.  It is thoughtful and I am sure your friend or family member that is throwing the party will appreciate it. 

RSVP?  Yes, the host needs to prepare for everyone coming to the party  

When do you show up?  On time and you leave when the invitation says it is over.  Invitation says 1-3 pm, you go at 1 pm and you leave at 3 pm.  Call people or text them if you are going to be longer than 15 min late, there are games scheduled and you don't want to interfere with those.  If your kid is sick or running a fever, don't go and make other kids and possible parents sick.  Call as soon as you know you won't be able to attend. After the opening of the gifts, the party winds down and is over unless otherwise stated.  


What to wear?  Well, this could be tricky.  If there is a theme, then wear something in that theme.  If it is the run of the mill adult birthday party?  Something dressy casual is sufficient.  Consider if the party is around a campfire outside in Colorado in January or in their posh downtown apartment summer time in New Orleans. 

What to bring?  Birthday party gift.  This could be tricky but not impossible.  Call in reinforcements=talk to their significant other about what they want.  They don't have a significant other?  Talk to their friends or the their family or stalk their social media pages or pinterest pages to find a common thread as to what they would like.  Then get that.   

RSVP?  Yes

When do you show up?  This could be tricky.  Is it a surprise party?  Get there 30 minutes early to allow yourself time to park and get inside and hide for the surprise.  If there is going to be any delay in your arrival whatsoever, contact the host.  Don't arrive at the same time as the guest of honor and spoil the surprise.  


What to wear?  Nothing white or near white.  Black is sufficient except for close family.  I like to stick to colors like dark purple for winter weddings and teal for spring/summer weddings.  Find out the colors of the wedding and DON'T wear those.  Your pictures that you take with the bridesmaids won't have enough contrast and it will look like you were a wannabe bridesmaid.  So, steer clear of those. 

What to bring?  A gift/gift card around $25-$50, cash to tip your bartenders, cash for the money dance (if they have one) and wear comfortable shoes.  Your shoes will probably come off if you dance a lot but, wear as comfortable ones as possible so you aren't miserable.

RSVP?  Of course and be sure to add whomever you are bringing.  This one is usually by mail but just be sure the hosts know ahead of time.  

When do you show up?  If the invitation says 4, you arrive at 3:30.  This allows you time to park, get your gift out, say hello to a few friends or family before taking your seat.  The Bride usually walks down the aisle at 4, not you.  So, if you are late ...wait until the ceremony has started and the bride has walked down the aisle completely before taking your seat at the very back of the building.  


What to wear?  Cocktail attire/Dressy attire.  Also depends on the location.  These are usually held at restaurants or event halls.

What to bring?  Yourself and your receipt of the purchase of ticket if necessary.

RSVP?  Yes, these things are prepaid so you would have bought tickets prior to the date anyway.

When to show up? If the invitation states that the party is 7-10, arrive at 7 and leave at 10.   


What to wear?  Dressy Casual/Dressy or Cocktail Attire  This all depends upon where it will be.  Is this a tight knit family function that is only family, then dress however.  Is this a 50th Wedding Anniversary at the Ritz downtown?  I would suggest Cocktail attire for that. 

What to bring?  Bring the lovely couple an anniversary gift according to the year that they have been married.  Modern vs. Traditional gifts suggestions below

  • 1: Paper or Clock
  • 2: Cotton or China
  • 3: Leather or Crystal/Glass
  • 4: Fruit & flowers or Appliances (how sexy, lol)
  • 5: Wood or Silverware
  • 6: Iron/Candy or Wood
  • 7: Wool/Copper or Desk Set
  • 8: Bronze or Linens & Lace
  • 9: Pottery or Leather
  • 10: Tin/Aluminum or Diamonds
  • 11: Steel or Fashion Jewelry 
  • 12: Silk/Linen or Pearls
  • 13: Lace or Textile/Furs (Faux is perfectly acceptable)
  • 14: Animal/Animal Items or Gold Jewelry
  • 15: Crystal or Watches
  • 20: China or Platinum
  • 25: Silver 
  • 30: Pearl
  • 35: Coral
  • 40: Ruby
  • 45: Sapphire
  • 50: Gold
  • 55: Emerald
  • 60: Diamond

With Etsy and Amazon, it is easy to find a good thoughtful gift in one of these categories.  Be creative!  

RSVP?  Yes, most definitely.  The host needs to know how many people will attend and the venue needs to prepare for those in attendance.  

When to arrive?  Could be tricky.  Is this a surprise anniversary party?  Show up 30 minutes before any sort of surprise party just to give yourself enough time to park and get in the venue.  If the event says on the invitation/text invite/evite says 7 pm, arrive promptly at 7 or if you are close to the host, see if you can bring something they may need for the party.  


What to wear?  Nothing white or anything that can show a stain.  Comfy casual is best for these.  If the boil is taking place near a body of water, it might be windy.  Bring a pony tail holder and sunscreen. 

What else to bring?  Your own beer or alcoholic beverages.  Usually they have some but may not have exactly what you are looking to drink.  Bring what you will drink and more if you feel generous to share with the other party goers.  Also, if you only drink a particular type of water or kambucha or brand of cola, bring that as well. 

RSVP?  Yes and ask if the host needs you to bring anything else besides your alcohol or special beverages.

When to arrive?  If the invite/evite/invitation says 2pm, go for 2.  If you go later than that then you risk eating cold crawfish or shrimp.  They are still good but, not as good.  


What to wear?  What team are you rooting for?  Wear those colors.  Extremely comfy casual works best for this party because you can plan to be there for approximately 4 hours. 

What to bring?  Sometimes it is pot luck so coordinate with the host with what you should bring.  S/he might want you to bring a dessert or an appetizer. Also bring your own alcohol. 

RSVP?  Yes, most definitely. 

When to arrive?  About 15-30 minute prior to the game at least.  Give yourself some time to get settled in before you are watching the game.  Get there with enough time to park, get your beer in the fridge and get a plate of food before the game starts.  


What to wear?  Dressy Casual.  Men should expect to wear a jacket.  So, a cute church outfit/dressy casual outfit or a suit with or without the tie is sufficient. 

What to bring?  A bottle of wine for the host or if they don't drink or don't like wine then something nice and interesting for their kitchen is a great idea.  Maybe a personalized charcuterie board or cheese board with cute knives is a good gesture that tells the host you appreciate their invite. 

RSVP?  Absolutely.  These are small parties, usually and the host most definitely needs to know how much to cook   

When to arrive?  If the invite/evite/text invite says 7-9, get there at 7.  It is thoughtful to contact the host on your way and see if they need anything like ice or extra chips.  

Want an extra cool FREE printable for you to print out and hang in your closet for when you need to get ready for these events?  Click here for your FREE printable.  

Want to learn more and be "in the know?" 


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