The Non-Definitive List of How to Avoid Faux Pas at Asian American Functions

With the holidays coming up, there will be plenty of potlucks, parties, dinners, etc. that many will be attending, so here's a non-definitive list of how to avoid faux pas at Asian American gatherings.

As is the case in any culture, there are a number of said and unsaid “rules” that end up getting passed down generationally or understood amongst peers. With the holidays coming up, there will be plenty of potlucks, parties, dinners, etc. that many will be attending.

For those of you who regularly attend said gatherings, feel free to peruse, make comments, or even add your own! For those who are guests or are new, read through and see if there’s any prep needed before attending to avoid any faux pas. As mentioned in the title, this is non-definitive. These are some of the norms that I notice within my own friends and family, but know full well that is not the norm for everyone. Take a stroll and let us know what you think and what we missed!

  1. Take your shoes off before you enter the home
  2. Bring something, never arrive empty handed (ideas: desserts, sides, appetizers are most likely; drinks and snacks if needed)
  3. Greet everyone when you get there (tip: if you bring a guest, introduce them when you arrive (also let the host know ahead of time)
  4. Offer to help the host as you arrive
  5. Offer to serve others, grab them drinks, etc. 
  6. Let people of importance eat first (elders, hosts, etc.)
  7. Try to avoid making comments on people’s dishes (unless it’s positive)  
  8. Try to avoid taking the last serving of dishes 
  9. Offer to buss the table/take other people’s plates to clear the table
  10. Find a job to help out with after the meal - helping wash dishes, wipe down the table, take out the trash, refill food/drinks, etc. (tip: even if the host/whoever you ask tells you no, either do it anyways, ask again, or find something else to do)
  11. When helping clean up, offer leftovers for people to take home - help put in containers, wrap up, etc. (also take leftovers home when offered)
  12. Help make sure the place was cleaner than when you arrived (e.g. put things back where they were (e.g. pillows, coasters, dishes, etc.), replace the toilet paper in the bathroom if it’s empty) 
  13. Let people know you’re leaving/try to say bye to the group 
  14. Thank the host as you leave/after the gathering

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