Your twenties are an interesting decade. They start in a whirlwind of nightclubs and 21st birthdays and then halfway through you’re navigating weddings, office parties and potentially even baby showers. If it’s your first time at any of these events, you may be wondering how to come across as a flawless, functional adult. Here’s a few life etiquette tips for 20-somethings to get you through the event.
Let’s start with an easy one. Office parties are pretty similar to regular parties, but all your co-workers and potentially even your boss are present.
Less drinking, more thinking
Having a few drinks after work with your close colleagues is one thing; a party where most of the office are attending is another. While sculling a couple of champagnes would put your nerves to rest, getting wasted at your office party has high potential for disaster. Set yourself a drink limit and stick to it. There’s always the option for an after party with your close colleagues if you want to let loose later on.
Beware the overshare
Alcohol and relaxed settings make us all feel more comfortable sharing our feelings. Maybe you’re having a tough time at work or feeling under-appreciated in your role. Even if that’s the case, professional concerns are better handled in a professional setting. Save yourself the drama and set up a meeting on Monday instead.
Choose your plus-one wisely
Whether it’s your partner or a close friend, you should bring someone that helps you put your best career-self forward. It’s easy at any age to forget yourself in a party setting and it’s especially easy to do when you’re young. Your plus-one should be someone who encourages your professional side to help you make the best impression on your co-workers, boss and their plus-ones too.
In the latter half of your 20s, a lot of long-term couples will be ready to tie the knot. If you’re lucky enough to be invited to a friend’s wedding you may feel out of your depth now that you’re too old for the kids table.
Do you need a gift for the engagement party?
Engagement party gifts are not required, but they are a nice touch (especially if you’re close to the couple). The best choice is something small and thoughtful; like a nice bottle of wine or even a bunch of flowers to say congratulations. There’s still the wedding to come and that’s when you’ll be splurging on a proper gift.
Who pays for the bridesmaids?
If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that bridesmaids’ expenses are typically the responsibility of the maid in question, be they lady or gent. From the dress to the hair, makeup and potentially even travel costs – it’s an expensive honour joining your friend’s wedding party. If your budget is likely to become an issue, mention it to the bride or groom early on. That way you can both be clear about which costs are covered and which definitely aren’t.
Can you wear black or white to a wedding?
Black and white have been taboo wedding attire for the longest time, but times are changing. Some brides choose black for their wedding party and others work it into their décor. Black attire that could be classified as ‘evening wear’ is typically considered a good fit – more dressed up and less corporate or funeral.
All white is still considered bad taste, but some white mixed with other colours is generally safe. Just ask yourself, does this look like I’m trying to be a bride?
Should you RSVP?
A wedding is a formal event with catering and guest numbers required. Once you accept or decline the wedding invite, you’ll be locked in. It’s important to RSVP on time and not to say yes (or no) if you intend on changing that answer later. If something does come up be sure to let the couple know early. This gives them time to fill the spot or alter their guest numbers before the big day.
Put your phone away
Professional photography is very much the norm at weddings. As much as you may want the best shot of the bride coming down the aisle, the wedding couple want it more. Keep your phone tucked away or use it sparingly and try not to get in the way of the photographer. A lot of weddings now use photo ops after the ceremony and social media hashtags to ensure every guest has their shining moment too.
Baby showers are a less common invite in your 20s, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The most important thing to know is that baby showers are fairly intimate events. If you’ve scored an invite, it means you’re someone important to the parents-to-be.
Can you bring a plus-one?
Depending on the size and formalness of the baby shower, a plus-one may be allowed. It’s always an option to ask, but don’t be discouraged if the answer is no. The parents-to-be don’t traditionally throw their own shower so you’ll need to find out who the host is for your answer.
Do you have to attend?
In your 20s, pregnancy and babies are often far from your mind. If you’re invited to a baby shower and feel awkward about attending, remember that it’s pretty special to be invited in the first place. Baby showers are generally intimate occasions for only the closest family and friends. You could also mention your concerns to the host or parents. They might have some ideas to put you at ease.
Do you need a gift?
If you attend, yes. If you can’t attend, it’s a personal preference. Baby shower registries are fairly popular these days so choosing a gift shouldn’t be difficult. But, if you are unable to attend there’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to send a gift in lieu.
Julia is a Melbourne-based writer specialising in content marketing and digital content. When she’s not writing, you’ll usually find her sipping hot tea, reading a great book and planning the next big travel adventure. Visit Work With Me if you’d like to collaborate.