Do you snoop through your host’s home during a party?

Sheryl Nadler
Shine On
June 13, 2012

Remember that time at your colleague's place for dinner and you accidentally found yourself sneaking a peek in her medicine cabinet? Were you tempted to go further? Have you ever gone beyond the medicine cabinet and snooped through a host's home during a party?

The U.K.'s Daily Mail says if you're British, you probably have. In what appears to be a largely unscientific study, one in ten Brits admit to snooping around a host's home during a dinner party.

But even more shocking — if the study is to be taken with anything more than a grain of table salt — British manners seem to be falling down in other areas, as well. Twenty-eight per cent admit to not bringing a gift for the host, 17 per cent claim to swear at the dinner table and 13 per cent say they've lit cigarettes in other people's homes. Not surprisingly then, seven per cent of those surveyed claim to have lost friendships over all this rudeness.

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But what about Canadians? Do we live up to our reputation of being polite and respectful all the time?

"No I don't believe [we] do," says Louise Fox, owner of The Etiquette Ladies and host of "As a matter of fact, one of the complaints I often hear from people who entertain frequently is the difficulty they have in getting people to even respond to invitations."

She says Canadians are generally considered to be kind and considerate, but we don't follow protocol the way the British are known to. Snooping of any kind is a big no-no, she says. And she is adamant that guests restrict themselves to the party areas, even staying out of the kitchen, despite good intentions to help out.

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"Even asking the host if you can see their house is rude," she says. "Perhaps the host hasn't had time to clean the whole house. The essence of good manners is making others feel comfortable so asking to view the rest of the house could put the host on the spot."

As for whether or not to bring the host a gift, Adeodata Czink, owner of Toronto-based Business of Manners, says if you are invited for dinner, you should bring something.

"Cut flowers is your best choice — you can't go wrong with it," she says. "If you bring a bottle of wine, say 'this is for your cellar' so the host should not feel obligated to go with your wine, especially if he already has paired his wine with the meal."

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