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How to be a perfect house guest?

Guaranteed to get you invited again!

· French Etiquette

This summer, it's certainly welcome to gather at home with friends, escaping the heat, leisurely and comfortable.

Today, let's take a look at a few etiquette rules when visiting your friend's house, that are guaranteed to get you invited again!

Before leaving

When you are invited to somebody's home, make sure you bring a gift. If your host is a woman, you can offer a bouquet of flowers, but it's better to send it in advance (ie. in the afternoon) so that the host can place them in a vase beforehand. This will avoid her being in a rush to look for a vase as guests have already arrived.

There are other choices. Chocolates are also a good choice, when packaged nicely. In France, it is a common gift around Christmas time or Easter.

Of course, the most popular gift is wine. Choose a wine that matches your friend's taste, for example his favourite region or a special vintage. Don't be surprised if your host keeps your wine for another time as he or she probably already planned to open a specific wine that night you are invited.

When arriving

As a guest, it's usually better to arrive about 10-15 minutes later than the appointed time to give the host enough time to finish preparing (cooking, cleaning, setting up the table…). In French, it's called "le quart de politesse".

Always ask your host whether you should take off your shoes or not, as you should respect the rules of the house. In France, peuple usually keep them on, cleaning them first on the doormat.

When it's time to eat

When you are about to sit at the dinner table, always wait for the host to tell you where to sit! Don't just sit there by yourself, ignoring the seating plan, even if it is quite casual.

Before starting to eat, usually, the host will pour you some wine, and it will be the time to toast!

Although the starter is served, you should never start eating before everyone is served, and before the host starts to eat! It's impolite.

During the meal, don't just sit around while your host is busy. It's nice to offer your help such as getting more bread or some desserts. You can also help set the table.

And if you need bread but the plate is far away, ask for it. Don't reach across other guests' plates directly.

You should not pour yourself wine, unless your host is busy or far away from you, in that case also offer some to others. And of course, don't get drunk!

Naturally, don't forget that "courtesy demands reciprocity", and that you shall invite your friend in return another time. Are you ready to be a perfect house guest?



Founded in 2018 by Matthieu Ventelon, Hedonia is the first institution in China combining professional Wine and Etiquette expertise in the same training offer.

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