Etiquette for Social Gatherings for a Young Adult


Even if you are a young child, you will be invited to parties, and you will invite people to parties. When you are a teen, your social life will really pick up. It is just as important to be a good guest, as it is to be a good host or hostess. Making others glad they invited you will prompt them to invite you again. Being a good host or hostess will prompt people to accept your invitations again.

Extending and receiving invitations

When you are planning a party, it is proper etiquette to send invitations. Schedules are often busy and if you want your friends to be at your party, you have to give them notice. You can purchase or make invitations, or even send "email" invitations for less formal events. But be sure to give your guests at least three weeks notice, especially during busy times, such as the holidays and summer vacation months.

All invitations should include your name, the date, the time, the place, an RSVP date, and any special instructions or requests. RSVP dates are when you need to know if they are coming. This is usually a week to four days prior to the party. Special instructions can include things the invitee needs to bring (a towel, their bathing suit) or requests, such as, "If you don't eat meat, please let us know." If you are not inviting all the people in your classroom, make sure to hand out the invitations outside of school so you do not hurt anyone's feelings.

When you receive an invitation, say thank you. Give the invitation to your parents, or, if you are older, let your parents know, so you can find out if there are any conflicts. Make sure that you or your parents reply by the RSVP date by calling, emailing, or telling them in person. If you must purchase a gift, ask the person if there is something special they want and give yourself or your parent time to purchase it, wrap it, and fill out a card. If you find out last-minute that you cannot attend a party you already said you would go to, try to let the person know, apologize for not being able to make the party, and explain the situation briefly, (I'm not feeling well and I don't want to get everyone sick.")

How to be a good host/hostess

Greet all of your guests when they arrive. Tell them you are glad they came. Make them comfortable by offering them a drink. If other friends are there already, bring new guests to them so they can chat while you greet new guests. When everyone has arrived that is going to, then join your friends. If they tend to split into small groups, be sure to spend some time with each group. Make sure everyone knows where the bathroom is. Make sure everyone has what they need, and that they have eaten, or know where to get something to drink.

How to be a good guest

Be polite, say please and thank you. Don't break other people's things. Be sociable and don't start arguments or fights with other guests. Clean up after yourself. If you spill something, clean it up, or if your wet towel is on the floor, pick it up. Offer to help your host or hostess with bringing out food or other tasks. Enjoy your friend's party, and remember, he or she probably put some effort into it, so let him or her know that you appreciate that effort and being invited. When you are leaving, be sure to thank you host or hostess and his or her parents if they are there.

Thank you notes

It is very important to send thank you notes to those who attended your party. Fancy or simple does not matter -- just let them know you are glad they came. If it was a birthday party and gifts were given, be sure to mention it in your note. "Thank you for the beautiful shirt, I really love it!" It is not expected that you send thank you notes for a party you attended; however, if you had a very good time, you could send one. Also, you could call, email, or text a thank you telling your host/hostess what a good time you had and thanking them for inviting you.
Being a good hostess or host will ensure that people enjoy coming to your parties. Being a good guest will ensure that people continue to invite you. Always invite people to your party in advance and give them time to respond. Make notes on your invitations about special requests or instructions so they are prepared. If they need a towel, let them know in the invitation. If you are serving meat, accommodate friends who may not eat meat by having something else for them to eat.
School Etiquette

You spend most of your day and week at school, so it is important to know what good school etiquette is. Some schools have their own policy of what is appropriate and not allowed, but beyond that, it is up to you to treat others with respect and kindness.

Socializing at school

Most socializing at school should be done during lunch, recess, or during "non-classroom" times. Most schools will not allow socializing in class. While it is important to pay special attention to your closest friends, you should not ignore certain students or exclude others. Be kind to everyone to the best of your ability. Treat everyone with respect. If there are certain fellow students you don't get along with, keep your distance from them, but do not be rude or nasty to them. Don't get involved in other's fights and disagreements. Try to be as neutral as possible.

Avoiding fights and arguments

To avoid getting involved in arguments or the arguments of others, try not to take school drama too seriously. Kids make friends and change friends, fight and make-up very quickly. A friend can be upset over something one day, and over it the next. So, don't get overly involved in petty fights. When someone is trying to get you "on their side," smile and say, "I like both of you, you guys will work it out." Don't take sides, because when you do, the fighting friends will make up and you will be on the outs! Keep in mind that whatever kids are upset about today, will probably be forgotten for something else a month or even a week from now. So don't get too caught up in school drama.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Etiquette for Children and Teens course?

Balancing school work and socializing

Of the three parts of a child or teen's life -- school, work/volunteering, and socializing -- school work should always be most important. Only if your grades are good should you add work or volunteer responsibilities to your load. Likewise, if your grades are not good, you should not accept invitations until they are. School work is the most important, but it is not all-important; you should make time for fun, friends, sports, and volunteering/working too. Just make sure you are okay balancing these things. If you are getting overwhelmed, let go of something until you are caught up in other areas. As you get older, your parents can't always decide your priorities for you; you will have to do that yourself.

Sports etiquette
If you play sports, your coaches have probably taught you the merits of good sportsmanship. It is worth mentioning, though, that you should not be rude or mean to rival teams or individuals when you see them outside of competition. When competing against a team or individual, you can have a "win" mentality without being rude or obnoxious. Winning does not mean beating. If you meet a competitor in a public situation, be polite, tell them something you admire about their ability. Because you compete in sports, does not mean you have to be enemies. Some of the fiercest competitors in professional sports are great friends in private life. These athletes are able to battle it out to win on the court or field, but can be admirers and friends when off the court or field. The most successful athletes are those who can get along well with many people and not get arrogant when winning or become hostile when losing.

Being a good athlete means not being rude to competitors. You should try to learn from them, rather than fight with them. It is bad etiquette to be rude or obnoxious to those you play against in sports, even during competition. This shows a lack of self control and maybe even a lack of talent. Successful athletes do not treat others disrespectfully before, during, or outside of competition. Those who do are usually on the front page of the newspapers as bad examples of how to behave.
Confidence Without Arrogance
Exuding confidence is attractive. When you are confident, it makes others feel confidence in you, it helps them trust you. Confidence is not arrogance. Arrogance is not appealing to anyone, quite the opposite. Most people do not like arrogant people. Work to develop your confidence. Some people are not outgoing by nature; that does not mean they are not confident. You can be shy and quiet and still be confident in your abilities. There are many ways to do this, and some of them will be introduced in this lesson.

Building confidence

Self confidence is the ability to believe in your own abilities, strengths, and self-reliance. Confidence is presenting an attitude of calm assurance and faith in yourself. If you lack confidence, it shows. When you have no confidence in yourself, those around you lose confidence in you. You may have good self confidence now, and you should continue to develop it. Or, you may be pretending to be confident, when you really are not. The best way to feel confident, is to do things you are good at. Try lots of things to see what works best for you. Don't try to do things that others are good at, because it seems easy. Try things that you will succeed at to build confidence. If you have an older sibling who is great at basketball, and you are not that good, don't join the team and feel bad about not being as good as your sibling. Instead, try something else. Chess, softball, track, debate club, photography, art, math, the list goes on and on. There are so many activities to try, if you keep at it, you will find the things you are best at. Keep doing those things until you become expert at them. This is confidence-building. Being confident does not mean being outgoing. These are personality types. A person can be quiet and still be confident.

Showing confidence without arrogance or cockiness

Confidence and arrogance, as said, is not the same thing. So, how are they different? Arrogant people are those who act as if they are superior to others. They offend most people with their over-developed sense of importance. Need examples? Here are some examples of confidence versus arrogance:



Knowing your true value

Overestimating your true value

Working hard to know something

Thinking you know more than you really do

Working hard to be good at something

Bragging that you are good at everything

Knowing you are good at something

Thinking you are better than everyone else

Believing in yourself

Believing others won't manage without you

Thinking you're smart

Knowing what is best for you

Thinking your smarter than everyone else

Thinking you know what is best for others


Being confident is a good thing; it means you know what you are good at, and what you are not good at. It means having self-assurance in yourself, because you worked hard to obtain it, but realizing there may be people who are better at it than you are, and that you can learn from them. Being confident also means knowing what is best for yourself, because you know yourself well. Confidence is loving yourself and knowing you are worthy of being loved, treated well, and with kindness from others. Arrogance is thinking you know everything and are smarter and/or better than everyone else. Arrogance is demanding more love, attention, and adoration from everyone around you, while giving hardly any to others, because you think you are better. It is a false sense of accomplishment that does not come from hard work and real accomplishment or achievement, and most people find it very unattractive. Bravado is similar to arrogance, but as long as it is projected with humor and a strong sense of self awareness, it can be charming.


You are never too young or too old to learn good etiquette and good manners. Etiquette is more than saying please and thank you -- it is treating others with respect, even those who are rude. It is also self respect and self confidence. The best place to begin learning and practicing good manners is at home. Remember to treat your parents and siblings with respect; siblings may not be as easy, but at least be polite to them in public! Having good manners and proper etiquette does not make you uncool, or old school, it makes you special and great to be around. Good etiquette also does not mean not being yourself. Always be yourself, but do so while respecting the rights of others. Having these skills and this knowledge will help you your entire life. Universities and employers are all seeking that rare quality that fewer people have in our modern world, confidence that comes from respect-of-self and others without arrogance -- etiquette!

For parents and caregivers, children are never too young to start teaching etiquette and good manners to. In fact, if they are reminded every day of the basics of treating others with respect, good manners will become ingrained very early on. Teaching is also learned by watching: Children watch how their parents and caregivers treat others, how they act in public and behave at the dinner table. Many children learn by emulation. So, if you want your children to have good manners, it helps to show them the way!