Modern Etiquette for Social Gatherings & Events

Enhancing Your Confidence, Social Etiquette and Manners

Social gatherings and events are a wonderful way to connect with others. Master the foundations of etiquette and enhance your confidence to excel in any social situation.

In the case of social gatherings, being a well-mannered guest is essential. A guest that behaves in an appropriate manner is key to the success of an event. Learn the foundational knowledge to modern etiquette and manners and find yourself invited back to more events.

It is important to acknowledge that guests are not customers and should behave in a courteous and respectful manner to other guests, particularly to the host.

A well-mannered guest takes consideration for the host and does not behave in a selfish manner that would embarrass the host or its guests. Guests that behave well, not only make the event a fun and beautiful memory but are also more likely to be invited to other future gatherings.

Japan is no exception to this rule. Social events and gatherings are recognized as opportunities to develop and cement personal and professional relationships. Knowing the right person in your network can offer extensive advantages to your personal and professional life. Understanding etiquette and manners are never out of style and can create a number of opportunities for you.

In the Social Circle Course, you can learn in-depth about internationally accepted behaviour. This course is recommended for those who want to learn about international common sense and aim to enter high-society circles. Please note, for those that do not have background knowledge on the subject will be required to take an etiquette and manners course.

Modern Etiquette: How to Behave at a Social Event


Social etiquette rules also apply to receiving and answering invitations. This section of the course will go in-depth and cover all likely scenarios.

Invitations require the reader to understand minute details. Learn how to break down the full meaning of different types of invitations.

It is essential to check the contents and ask the organizer any questions at an early stage.

Be thankful when being invited to an event and make sure to thank the sender of the invitation.

Learn how to carefully word replies to an invitation, including letting the host know if you don’t like certain aspects of the gathering. Such as:

"Thank you for inviting me to this wonderful event. I would like to refrain from participating as it is not my preference, but I wish you a successful event."

If you let the organizer know your taste and convenience, it will be easier for them to organize something more to your liking in the future.

Replying To an Invitation

Reply in a timely manner.

Let the organizer know if you are unable to attend. The sooner the better.

It is best to reply within 48 hours.

Consider the organizer when writing a reply to an invitation. A short and concise reply is preferred over a lengthy one.

Consider the organizers feelings and time spent into organizing a social event when refusing to attend.

It is perfectly acceptable to ask questions about the event content. However, be careful of the types of questions you ask to not cause offence.

Inform organizers of any allergies or dietary restrictions. This must be done well in advance and never on the day of the event.

Bringing a Friend to an Event

Ask if you can bring a plus one.

It is essential to thank the host for allowing you to bring a plus one.

Do not make the mistake of simply bring a plus one along without the permission of the organizer.

Carefully consider whether your plus one will behave appropriately at the event.

Think carefully when introducing people together as it will reflect back on your character and relationship if it does not go well.

Let your plus one know the purpose and formality required at the event to avoid any awkward situations.

Do not ask for special treatment for your guests.

Referral fees are not offered unless offered.

Know that the conditions for refunds to guests are the same as for other guests and that no special consideration is usually given.

Be responsible for your plus one’s behaviour.

Dress Code

Understand the basics of dress codes.

Know how to make a good first impression based on your choice of clothing.

Understanding the dress code for a social gathering is crucial. Be sure to check.

If unsure, check with the organizer.

Making an effort to dress for an event is a requirement and not an option. One should not be dressed plainly for such events as it will reflect badly on one’s own character.

Individuals interested in learning more about dress codes, we recommend taking an additional lesson focusing on the subject.

Rental clothing is also an appropriate option when dressing for an event.

The Day Before / The Day of the Event

The organizer will be planning on contacting you the day before or on the day to check.

The organizer will be confirming the location, event time, dress code ect.

Rather than calling the organizer, it is better to send a message to them or to the staff of the event to confirm your attendance.

If you are late to the event, do not make a scene when entering the venue.

Reception & Greeting

Reception desks are beautifully set up to receive guests. Please do not leave your belongings there. There will often be an assigned area for personal belongings.

At the reception, greet the host warmly. This is where participation fees or flowers are exchanged. Please note that change is not given and be sure to bring the exact amount if required to pay a participation fee.

Check with the receptionist or moderator about the timing of giving flowers to the performers. If there is an event where you cannot give flowers, wait until the closing.

Line up at the reception as decided Do not interrupt

If there is a receiving line when heading to the venue after reception, it is permissible to have a line of drinks

When greeting the host, make sure to thank them for inviting you to the event. Avoid talking for too long as it will slow down the line.

When you enter the venue, do not go to your seat immediately. Enjoy socializing and getting to know other guests.

Always go to the restroom before a meal is served. It is bad etiquette to stand up during meals.

Seated Table Manners

Individuals with no background knowledge of table manners will be required to take a lesson on the subject.

Set your phone on silent mode and place it in either your bag or on your lap. This is for professional photographers at the event who will prefer having the beautifully set up tables without the clutter of phones.

Use proper table manners and etiquette.

Good posture and no elbows on the table. Hunching over your meal is not good manners.

Enjoy talking to people sitting next to you and make small talk.

Don't walk about during meals.

Women should not pour wine. Let men handle the pouring.

Do not make loud chewing or slurping sounds when eating.

Be careful of the types of topics you cover in conversation. Do not make other guests uncomfortable.

Watching Live Performances

Be considerate of the artist and performers.

Enjoy watching the live performance regardless of whether you like it or not.

Do not speak loudly during a performance.

Do not take photos or videos of performances unless permitted.

Refrain from walking around during a performance.

Ask in advance when you can hand the bouquet. Don't go to the stage without permission.

Greet performers and compliment their performance.

Don't ask performers for their personal contact information.

Conversation Etiquette

If you are not confident in conversation etiquette, we suggest taking a class on the subject.

Active conversation is the mark of a good guest.

Do not fiddle around with your phone while making conversation with another person.

Even if you are alone, smile to show that you are enjoying yourself.

Understand the basics of a good and bad conversation.

Don't interrupt when someone is talking.

Do not inappropriately touch any other guest at the event.

Talk after listening to the other party and engage in their chosen topic. Avoid topics about money or religion.

Pay attention to the content of the story and ask questions to make the speaker know that you are listening to them.

Talk about engaging and elegant topics such as wine, art, music, history, books, movies, etc.

Do not talk about sexual things at an event.

Don't ask women about their age, marital status, or whether they have children.

It is vulgar to talk about money, particularly about income and net profits.

Do not brag or name drop.

Avoid talking about business when socializing with other guest. It is best to talk about lighter topics.

Restroom Etiquette

Do not to leave your seat during a course meal.

Wine and Drink

When making a toast, keep the speech short. The type of glassware is also important. This will be covered in detail in the lesson.

Wine should be poured by men.

You don't have to force yourself to drink alcohol. Ask the staff for a selection of non-alcoholic beverages.

It's good to have fun, but be careful not to drink too much at an event.

Inappropriate Behavior at Social Gatherings

This topic is covered in the article 8 Common Mistakes Japanese Guests Make at International Social Events.

The Following Day

Thank the host the following day.

Do not linger around after thanking the host.

Do not get in the way of the venue.

Send a thank-you message the following day.

Handwritten cards and letters are better than emails.

Do not complain or make negative comments about the event, constructive or otherwise.

Manners & Etiquette in Japan

Some people argue that etiquette no longer matters, that the rules for good behaviour are old-fashioned and out of date. However, good behaviour and manners are never out of style. Etiquette, like all other cultural behaviours, evolves to match the times. In Knowing how to behave appropriately in a given situation not only provides personal security, but it also enhances communication by breaking down barriers. Etiquette is not only a guideline for society, but also provides opportunities for you to feel good about yourself every day.

For a more in-depth study, the academy offers The Etiquette Course, which is divided into two sections, one for Japanese nationals and one for international individuals. We recommend this course to provide sound foundation to etiquette and manners. The following list will help you to get started.

Good Etiquette

  • Greet others in a positive manner
  • Speak respectfully to everyone
  • Follow the rules set out by administrations, committees etc.
  • Dress appropriately: strong perfumes and cologne are discouraged
  • Keep a respectful personal distance from others
  • Align shoes neatly in their designated space
  • Cleanly use changing rooms and powder-rooms
  • Wipe the water after using the dressing table
  • Put away your personal belongings in your designated area
  • Be considerate of others and do not take up too much space
  • Do not slam doors
  • Handle things with both hands
  • Be self aware and of how your actions affects others around you
  • Do not be disruptive
  • Listen and follow instructions
  • If you receive constructive critisim, say thank you and take it in
  • When receiving gifts, always thank the sender
  • It is perfectly acceptable to refuse a gift, as there are circumstances in which this is not appropriate. Giving gifts can be mistaken for a bribe, so care should be taken.
  • Give up your seat, especially for the elderly, disabled and pregnant women
  • Observe rules and manners on signs, such as on public transport
  • Keep track of how you behave at an event
  • Even if the terms and conditions say that you can do this by email, good manners dictate a face-to-face greeting.
  • Do your job well so as not to bother others

Bad Etiquette

  • Not acknowledging or greeting others
  • Demand others to greet you
  • Be respectful when talking about others
  • Disregard and complain about the rules
  • Wear inappropriate clothing to certain events and social gatherings
  • Be disrespectful towards others
  • Leaving personal belongings lying about
  • Break items that do not belong to you
  • Leave the dressing table in an untidy state. This rude and inconsiderate of the following individual that will use the dressing table after you
  • Don't take up too much space with your personal belongings in a shared space
  • Take up too much space in a public area
  • Slamming doors
  • Roughly handling objects
  • Behaving in a selfish manner
  • Being inconsiderate of your actions towards others
  • Breaking the law
  • Complain when you receive a warning or constructive criticism
  • Not know the correct gift etiquette
  • It is perfectly acceptable to refuse a gift, as there are circumstances in which this is not appropriate. Giving gifts can be mistaken for a bribe, so care should be taken.
  • Not offering your seat to others who may need it more than you
  • Not following the posted rules and etiquette, such as train etiquette
  • Not knowing how to behave appropriately at an event
  • Behavior that causes any inconvenience to others
  • It is considered extremely rude to complain and quit halfway
  • Create unnecessary work for the others