New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to throw a party — everyone is in a festive mood, looking to mark the end of the year and to kick-off the new one with a bang.
And if you want to throw a truly memorable bash, here is Dame Barbara Cartland’s guide to social etiquette, written 50 years ago, that provides a few things you can do to make sure your guests have the best time and your party goes without a hitch.Cartland, who died 10 years ago aged 98, explains how to throw the perfect New Year’s Eve party — and how to be a star guest, reports the Daily Mail.
1. The Basic
A cocktail party with a buffet is one of the best ways to celebrate the bash. The usual starting time is 7.30 – 8 p.m. and because this type of party is informal, verbal invitations are best.
2. Choosing your guests
Invite an interesting mix of people. As a rule of thumb, 50 per cent of your guests should already know each other. A mix of relatives, colleagues, friends and neighbours is ideal. It is a fatal mistake to invite too many distinguished or extrovert guests. The more important the guest, the larger the audience needed. And no more than two ‘stars’ at any party guarantees success.
3. Keep it simple
The host who goes in for too elaborate a show will not only exhaust himself, but also embarrass the guests who remember their own more modest efforts. The food, which should be plentiful, can be simple, and restricted to items that can be eaten with a fork or the fingers. Drinks need not be elaborate.
Have more plates, cutlery and glasses than you imagine can possibly be used. Do not use paper plates and plastic glasses. Borrow or hire china, cutlery, glass and table linen. Do not plan a schedule of games or entertainments. Children, unless the guests are relatives or very close friends, should be out of the way for evening occasions.
Guests will be expected to leave some time after 11 pm. Serving coffee at this time will help to bridge that gap when guests are uncertain whether they should leave.
4. Time to say goodbye
Whether it’s mince pies and coffee, cocktails, or a formal dinner — if you are a guest, it is always important to know when to leave a party. If you are asked for coffee at 11 a.m., you must leave by noon. If you are asked to lunch at 1 p.m., you leave by 2.30 p.m. If you are invited for a drink at 6 p.m., you leave about 7.30 p.m. If you are asked to dinner at 8 p.m., you leave at 10.30 p.m. If you are asked in after dinner, leave by 10.30 p.m., unless you are pressed to stay.
5. How to be the ideal guest
The golden rule for any guest is punctuality. It is never smart to arrive late or more than a few minutes early. When being introduced, it is important to smile and look each new person in the eye. It is then good manners to start a conversation once introduced. Guests are expected to eat what is put in front of them. If you are on a strict diet, it is better not to accept a dinner invitation. It is almost always wrong to ask if you can bring someone else to a party. A gift of flowers, chocolates or a book for your host is always greatly appreciated. On leaving, a guest should thank profusely for being entertained. If you do not drink alcohol, just say: “No thank you.” But if you do drink alcohol, know your limit and stop there.