Never Do These 5 Things in Front of Guests, Etiquette Experts Say

They don’t want to see you squabble with your spouse.

Anyone who's ever gone to a party can likely rattle off a list of things their hosts have done that they didn't appreciate. Maybe, they forgot to introduce them to the other guests. Or they prepared food in unsanitary conditions. Perhaps they even shepherded the dinner conversation into uncomfortable territory. Whatever your personal experiences, etiquette experts say you should never do certain things in front of guests, from cleaning up at an inappropriate time to allowing pets to take on too prominent a role. Read on for their advice.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Items You Should Always Have in Your Kitchen When Guests Come Over.

Finish your preparations.

Rear view of a woman ready to clean wearing gloves and an apron with her hands on her hips
Kmpzzz / Shutterstock

By the time guests arrive—especially for a formal gathering like meeting a partner's parents or hosting coworkers—your preparations should be complete.

"You will want your house clean and tidy, sparkling bathrooms, food nearly ready, the table set, some mood music playing, and for you to be dressed and ready to greet your guests," says Jodi RR Smith, president and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. "This means you should not still be cleaning, prepping food, or hopping into the shower as guests arrive at your door."

Nothing kills the mood like needing to take out the garbage in front of your guests or clear off a crumby dining table. Everything should be set before they ring the doorbell.

Talk about health, wealth, or politics.

Shot of a group of young men having drinks at a dinner party outdoors

Unless you know your guests quite well, you'll want to avoid topics like politics, religion, health issues, and money.

"After that, you will want to steer away from any topic that causes your guest to become upset, blush, or start to yell," says Smith.

Instead, have a few engaging conversation starters handy. "Chat about any hobbies or interests the guests have in common, books you've read, movies or plays you've seen, places you would like to travel, and the like," Smith advises.

Let your pets run amok.

dog jumping onto bed
Kislitskaya Natallia / Shutterstock

Don't let your pet ruin the party. "Pets should be kept off the counter and should not be jumping on guests," says Smith. "Hosts should also not hand feed a pet and then place their hands in or near food."

If your pet is the rambunctious type, keep them wherever they're happiest in the yard or another room. You don't want them creating unsanitary or, in the worst case, unsafe conditions.

A few days before your event, ask if any guests are allergic. If they are, you can make other accommodations for your pet regardless of their behavior.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things You Should Never Do When Hosting People in Your Living Room.

Clean intensely while you say goodbye.

woman washing dish and friends serving food in the kitchen

Your guests' last experience should be a warm farewell—not the image of you with your hands in the sink.

"For formal hosting, aside from light cleaning, such as clearing plates and utensils into the kitchen after each course for a dinner or gathering empty glasses and crushed napkins for a cocktail party, the heavy cleaning should wait until you have bid everyone goodbye," says Smith. "Your focus should be on interacting with your guests, not cleaning up."

However, you can use cleaning to give a light nudge. "If a time for a party or event is clearly stated on an invitation, and guests don't begin to leave, it is perfectly acceptable to begin cleaning up as a small hint that the party is over," says Karen Thomas, founder of Karen Thomas Etiquette.

Again, keep it light—don't pull the tablecloth out from underneath your visitors and start a wash cycle.

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Argue with your partner or children.

young couple fighting
iStock / PeopleImages

Save family scuffles for after your event. "You should avoid any behavior that would make a guest feel uncomfortable, such as being snide to your children, quibbling with your spouse, or being too familiar at the beginning of a relationship," says Smith.

After all, who hasn't had the awkward experience of having a couple argue in front of them? Save it for another day.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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