Believe it or not, there is a right way and a wrong way to behave at a summer barbecue. For instance, drinking so much beer that you say something super personal to someone you’ve just met is a no-no.
And filling your plate with two pounds of potato salad before other people have even had a chance to eat?
Yeah, that’s also very much frowned upon. Herein, discover what experts say are some of the biggest BBQ etiquette mistakes to avoid if you want to get invited back next summer.
Bringing extra guests without asking first
Most people buy a specific amount of party supplies based on the number of confirmed attendees on their guest list. Therefore, if you show up to a BBQ with even just one extra person who wasn’t invited, you are imposing on your generous host and putting them in an awkward position.
While it might not be your uninvited plus-one who pushes things over the edge, imagine what chaos there would be if everyone brought an uninvited plus-one.
Andrea Fowler, editor of the party planning site The Bash, suggests that hosts and hostesses “send out a real invitation rather than a casual alternative like a Facebook event” in order to avoid this.
“The RSVP wording is your opportunity to make a clear point about guest list flexibility—or lack thereof,” she says.
Not RSVPing ASAP
Make sure to “RSVP immediately upon receipt of [an] invite,” says Karen Thomas, a certified etiquette educator and author of Poised Polished Professional: The Experts’ Guide to Executive Presence.
The sooner you respond, the more time your host or hostess has to properly prepare for the day’s festivities.
Bringing up controversial topics
Politics. Religion. Finances. These are just some of the controversial topics that you should never, ever bring up in conversation at a casual backyard gathering—unless you want to stir up trouble, that is.
For an enjoyable afternoon, stick to more mild topics like popular TV shows and recent travel experiences.
Showing up empty-handed
You don’t have to bake a homemade pie or even prepare a salad from scratch every time you attend a barbecue.
However, you should “bring a hostess gift if not a dish,” says Thomas. Showing up to an event empty-handed is never the polite thing to do.
Taking extra servings of food before everyone else has had a chance to eat
“For communal food items, only take enough for your first portion so there’s enough for everyone to enjoy,” says Myka Meier, founder of Beaumont Etiquette.
The last thing you want is to be known as the potato salad hog for the rest of the season!
Not greeting guests
Naturally hosting a party requires quite a bit of multitasking and moving around. However, as a host or hostess, it’s your responsibility to make sure that each and every one of your guests feel properly welcomed.
And once the food is out and everyone has what they need, “make yourself available to mingle,” says Thomas. “Don’t be invisible the entire time.”
Ignoring guests you’ve never met
And the same goes for guests too. “Mingle with others even if you don’t know them,” says Thomas. Sure, this might be awkward at first, but sitting by yourself in a corner will only make you look rude and standoffish. Plus, you never know—you might just end up making a new friend!