Sweet Potato Harvest Hash—A Healthy Sheet Pan Dinner to Satisfy Cravings and Stay on Track

Winter weeknights call for a dinner that’s nourishing and healthy—and let’s be honest, that comes together in less than 30 minutes. This Sheet Pan Harvest Hash checks every box, and it also happens to be low-carb, paleo, whole30, grain-free, gluten-free, and whatever other dietary train you’re on right now. January is a time when many of us are looking to clean up our diets—but as we near the end of the month, our best intentions often fade (and the ease of pizza delivery is tempting.) Which is why I love this simple sheet pan dinner: it comes together faster than takeout, and if you’re lucky, there’ll be leftovers. Scroll on for a few keys to success on whipping up this simple dinner. Bonus points for the lack of dishes to clean at the end at the end of the night! You’re welcome.

Why you’ll love this Sheet Pan Harvest Hash:

  1. It’s incredibly easy. With just a few readily available ingredients, you can create a tasty and satisfying dinner in less time than it takes to order takeout.
  2. It fits (almost) ever diet. Whether you’re following a paleo, whole30, or grain-free diet, this recipe fits right in. It’s an ideal choice for those looking to embrace a healthier way of eating without compromising on a really delicious dinner. And if you’re eating vegetarian? Just swap the sausage for vegetarian sausage, tofu, or tempeh.
  3. Customizability. You can easily experiment with this recipe by swapping out ingredients to suit your preferences or dietary restrictions. It’s a versatile dish that welcomes culinary creativity.
sheet pan harvest hash with sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and sausage - ingredients - vegetables - winter produce
sheet pan harvest hash with sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and sausage - ingredients - vegetables - winter produce

Ingredients You’ll Need for Sheet Pan Harvest Hash

  • Sweet potato: my favorite root veg adds natural sweetness
  • Brussels sprouts: they get crispy and delicious when roasted at a high heat
  • Bell peppers and red onion: they get really sweet when roasted and add gorgeous color
  • Garlic salt: easy way to add tons of flavor
  • Italian seasoning: infuses the dish with aromatic herbs.
  • Italian sausage: I love that it’s preseasoned so half the work is done for you
sheet pan harvest hash with sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and sausage - ingredients - vegetables - winter produce

Simple hacks and shortcuts

  1. Pre-cut Vegetables: When I’m really in a time crunch, I’ll grab pre-cut veggies at the grocery to save some prep time. Choose colorful veggies like bell peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, and zucchini to add variety and visual appeal to your sheet pan hash. Then all that’s left to do is literally throw them on a sheet pan and let the oven do its job.
  2. Use Parchment Paper: Line your sheet pan with parchment paper to make cleanup a breeze. It also prevents sticking and promotes even cooking.
sheet pan harvest hash with sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and sausage - ingredients - vegetables - winter produce
sheet pan harvest hash with sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and sausage - ingredients - vegetables - winter produce

Ingredient swaps to customize your sheet pan harvest hash:

  • Switch up the sausage: Switch up the Italian sausage with chicken sausage, turkey sausage, or even plant-based sausage for a different flavor profile.
  • Omit the goat cheese based on your diet: If you’re dairy-free or following a strict paleo diet, substitute goat cheese crumbles with avocado slices or a dollop of compliant paleo mayonnaise.
sheet pan harvest hash with sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, and sausage - ingredients - vegetables - winter produce

Health benefits that make this harvest hash so nourishing:

  1. Nutrient-Rich: The colorful array of vegetables in this recipe provides a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They contribute to a well-balanced diet and support overall health and well-being.
  2. High-Protein: Italian sausage is a great source of protein, which plays a key role in muscle development, repair, and overall satiety.
  3. Paleo, Whole30, and Grain-Free Friendly: This recipe aligns with various diets due to its exclusion of grains, processed ingredients, and added sugars. It focuses on wholesome, natural ingredients that promote optimal health and well-being. It prioritizes real, whole foods that nourish and serve as a true reset for your body.
  4. Gluten-Free: The recipe is naturally gluten-free since it excludes grains, making it suitable for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
  5. Low-Carb: With its focus on vegetables and protein-rich sausage, this recipe is relatively low in carbohydrates, making it a great choice for those sticking to a low-carb or keto diet.

Scroll on to grab the recipe to this Sheet Pan Harvest Hash. It’s a wholesome, flavorful meal that’s low on effort and high on deliciousness—I think you’ll love it as much as we dol!

Print

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Description

This sheet pan harvest hash with sausage and sweet potatoes is a simple and healthy dinner that’s low-carb, paleo, whole30, and gluten-free.


  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 2 yellow bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1 red onion
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • For garnish: goat cheese crumbles and Italian parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop vegetables in 1 – 2” pieces and place on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, and italian seasoning, then spread out in an even layer and roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, sauté Italian sausage in a skillet over medium-high until cooked through. Use the back of a wooden spoon to break it up into large chunks.
  4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, sprinkle the Italian sausage over the top, then make 4 indentations in the vegetable mixture. Crack an egg into each indentation, season each egg with salt and pepper, and place back in the oven for 10 minutes until eggs are cooked to your liking.
  5. Remove pan from oven and top with Italian parsley and goat cheese crumbles. Serve!

Notes

*Ingredients swaps to try: Switch up the sausage: Switch up the Italian sausage with chicken sausage, turkey sausage, or even plant-based sausage for a different flavor profile.

Omit the goat cheese based on your diet: If you’re dairy-free or following a strict paleo diet, substitute goat cheese crumbles with avocado slices or a dollop of compliant paleo mayonnaise.

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 40
  • Category: dinner

Keywords: sheet pan dinner, whole30, paleo, gluten-free, grain-free

Experts Predict The Beauty Trends that are Here to Stay in 2024—And We’re Fully On Board

Trends are a reflection of our time, but they can also signal a fresh start—especially when it comes to the beauty industry. In honor of a welcome New Year ahead, we tapped a stable of beauty world heavy-hitters to help us sift through fleeting fads and pinpoint their best bets for 2024 beauty trend predictions.

While compiling the following beauty trends, we noticed that most fell into the skincare realm (a reaction to a consumer shift toward serums and moisturizers over makeup), and often speak to the sophistication of today’s buyer. The market may feel saturated, but skincare lovers are more educated than ever. They’re seeking out what actually works for them and are understanding the science as to why.

It’s an exciting, innovative time in the beauty world. The following 2024 beauty trend predictions feel like a hopeful response to that fact.

Featured image from our interview with Mary Ralph.

Quiet Luxury, The Beauty Edition

“The rise of ‘quiet luxury’ we saw come to the forefront of consumer consciousness in early fall ’23 is here to stay. A term initially coined for fashion—timeless, understated pieces that look expensive due to their high-quality materials—will influence the beauty industry as consumers seek effective, high-quality products that are both sophisticated and simple. (This doesn’t mean a steep price tag!)” — Monique Meneses, a 15-year former beauty brand consultant and founder of IOTA

Image by Teal Thomsen

Functional Fragrances

“In 2024 I’m pretty sure we’ll continue to see the rise of the functional fragrance movement as the next big perfume trend—where fragrance isn’t just about smelling good but is scientifically designed to be a powerful catalyst for mental well-being. I think we’ll see more scents that help with stress reduction and mood enhancement, ushering in a new era where fragrance not only awakens the senses but also contributes to a balanced mind and body.” — Rosie Johnston, Founder/CEO of By/Rosie Jane. 

Woman applying lip gloss in mirror.

Regenerative Aesthetics

“People are looking for a much more “natural” look now, particularly the younger generation. They are less interested in that “high cheek contour” and “extra full” lips—prejuvenation is much more popular. The trend is moving to less filters and less makeup, with more focus on skincare and anti-aging.” — SkinSpirit Physician’s Assistant Kristin Polega

Polega does recommend dermal fillers for that rejuvenated look, but not just any kind.

“I love Sculptra Aesthetic because we remove the “shock factor” that some people feel with filler. It provides a gradual build-up over time, so the results are subtle yet impressive when comparing photos.”

Woman styling blonde hair.

Scalp Care is Here to Stay

“Throughout 2023 we saw a comparison drawn between scalp care and skincare. As many companies move into the space and capitalize on the trend, our job as stylists is to further learn and educate clients about what we think are the most effective solutions available.” — Jay Small, Celebrity Hairstylist and Co-Founder of Arey

Regardless of hair texture, density, or style preference, Small recommends two things when treating the scalp at home.

  • Ditch the added fragrance in scalp serums. “Scent is more for the experience and less about the health of your scalp,” Small explains. “I would also look for a water-based formula that is free of oil—preferably one that is backed by research and science.”
  • Look for gentle products. “Scalp scrub doesn’t have to literally scrub your scalp!” Small adds. “The most common causes of buildup on the scalp are oil and dead skin cells. Using a product that is less abrasive and contains ingredients that target that build up is key.”
Nude nails 2024 beauty trend predictions.

The Skincare-ification of Nails

“2023 was a big, bling-filled nail year where studded talons and metallics prevailed, but I predict that 2024 nail trends will be dialed down with more of an emphasis on flaunting the underlying healthy nail, à la the no-makeup-makeup looks that have prevailed.” — Dr. Dana Stern, Board-Certified Dermatologist and Founder of Dr. Dana 

For reference, Dr. Stern nods to fashion: “Helmut Lang’s spring/summer show models wore sans-serif typeface nails, which have a minimalist tattoo-like vibe. Jin Soon created a similarly chic, understated yet edgy look for Jason Wu’s show where black dots and lines were used over a clear base, again flaunting the underlying healthy, well-cared-for nail. Also, Holly Falcone created a clean, but playful and somewhat fanciful look for Sandy Liang’s 2024 runway show where nails were painted with an almost translucent pearly base and accented with satin bows and delicate gems, again flaunting the underlying clean, healthy nail.”

Sami Bernstein Spalter

The Rise of the Trichologist

“A trichologist is a professional that studies the hair and scalp. Often we don’t know who to turn to for matters of scalp health—is it our dermatologist or our hairstylist? A trichologist bridges the gap between both, helping to diagnose and advise on everything from dandruff, hair loss, damaged hair strands, and overexposure to chemicals or styling. More and more I am speaking with hairstylists that are getting certified in trichology.” Jay Small, Celebrity Hairstylist and Co-Founder of Arey

Beauty products.

Less Sameness on the Shelves

“Given the oversaturation in the market and overflowing shelves, as well as economic pressures across the board, I believe customers will invest in brands that are truly innovating with a clear point of difference that goes beyond trendy marketing. The last few years have seen a lot of ‘sameness’ on the shelves and I think we’ll start to see that fizzle in the spirit of focus and customer-led innovation.” — Stephanie DiPisa, CEO + Founder of Solara Suncare

Wellness 2.0

“The mind-skin-gut connection will inspire more brands to highlight how comprehensive well-being and physical appearance are interconnected as the lines between wellness and beauty become even more blurred.” — Monique Meneses, a 15-year former beauty brand consultant and founder of IOTA

Skincare products.

Science-Backed Ingredients

“I think consumers will be moving past some of the latest social media-driven ingredients or marketing trends in a return to craving more science-backed, high-performing ingredients. Brands that take that seriously and remain transparent and focused in their expertise will continue to thrive.” — Stephanie DiPisa, CEO + Founder of Solara Suncare

Unwind With Me—A 7-Step Evening Routine to Stay Calm This Holiday

The holidays are filled with countless magical moments. Throughout November and December, opportunities abound to connect with family, friends, and loved ones. But between the prep, presents, and playing host for two months straight, our efforts to stay balanced and aligned often fall by the wayside. Our answer? Prioritizing the “pause” in those moments between all the hectic, hurried tasks that demand so much of our time.

During this season when we often default to a fast-paced flow, slowing down and savoring that space between the busyness is the ultimate opportunity to recharge and and restore. And sure, we may have our morning routines on lock, but I’d argue that a nighttime wind-down is just as important—if not even more so.

A Relaxing and Restorative Holiday Nighttime Routine

We teamed up with Haven Well Within to help you curate a holiday nighttime routine that supports you best. This year, rather than gritting our way through a packed to-do list, we’re all about slowing down and embracing the calm. Because a joy-filled season is built on the small, but nourishing rituals that allow us to cultivate our inner peace amidst the busyness of it all.

But as we all know well, self-care routines can quickly become an over-the-top affair. (12-step skincare, an overwhelming gratitude practice—you get the gist.) In the spirit of simplifying, I’m sharing my holiday nighttime routine. My hope is that it inspires you to step away from your screens and embrace this truth: the holidays get to look and feel however you want. With that intention in mind, let’s dive in to the evening habits that keep me feeling grounded and calm throughout the holiday season.

Every product is curated with care by our editors and we’ll always give an honest opinion, whether gifted or purchased ourselves. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Take a Gratitude Walk

Think of this like the calm and serene older sister of the Hot Girl Walk. Sure, I love feeling inspired by a podcast or energized by music, but sometimes, a walk serves the purpose of helping me get quiet with myself and taking in the environment around me.

This is the perfect way to begin my holiday nighttime routine, as it helps me transition from a hectic workday to a restful evening. By taking a walk outside, you signify to your mind and body that you’re stepping into a new part of your day. As you walk, reflect on what may have filled your day with gratitude. Perhaps it’s your co-worker who always makes you laugh, or a particularly delicious lunch your partner prepped. Maybe it’s your ability to take this walk at all, and the beautiful moment you get to soak up.

Cozy Up Your Wardrobe

When the temps drop, I want to be wrapped up in the softest, coziest pieces possible. (Of course, that means all my favorite Haven Well Within picks.) This is true all throughout the day, but there’s nothing comfier than slipping into elevated sweats and socks that fit my chill vibe. And when cozy is the direction, we all know that can quickly turn into a college tee and leggings-we’ve-had-too-long ensemble.

My approach to loungewear is keeping the fit flattering and tailored while opting for materials like organic cotton and cashmere to ensure it stays as comfy as possible. To emphasize elegance, monochromatic looks are always an easy yes.

Light a Calming Fragrance

Candles are key in my holiday nighttime routine. I love those that evoke the scents of the season—vetiver, cedar, fir, and anything pine. And while I can appreciate vanilla, the fragrance can often lean too sweet and saccharine. I like to lean into candles that emphasize the natural turn of the season, and this Ember Candle does exactly that. There’s also something so wonderfully ritualistic about lighting a candle before cozying up in bed with a cup of tea. For ambiance, a go-to candle is always a must.

Wrap One Present

Gift wrapping can often be a source of stress during the holiday season. (Especially when you have a pile of presents to wrap up on Christmas Eve.) This year, I encourage you to take it one gift at a time—and to make the process as joyful as possible. Get your holiday gifting done early, and gather wrapping paper that makes you feel inspired and excited to bundle up every present. Light your candle, pour a little tea, and set the scene with a little holiday music. With only one present to wrap each night, it’ll be a relaxing and restorative part of your holiday nighttime routine.

Soak in a Hot Bath

I’m a bath-taker—simple as that. For me, showers serve a functional purpose, but baths are a blissful ritual and an opportunity for self-care. While an everything shower keeps my hair clean and legs smooth, baths are more of a moment to soothe my soul. Again, candles are a must, and bath salts that blend CBD with magnesium and lavender are my secret to experiencing full-body relaxation. Sometimes, I’ll bring my current read in with me. But I also love simply soaking away and enjoying this moment of relaxation and calm.

Nourish Your Skin, Head to Toe

Let’s get real: is there anything better than slipping into clean sheets after moisturizing every inch of skin? It’s not only one of my favorite parts of my holiday nighttime routine, but something I look forward to each day. After exfoliating and/or dry brushing, I replenish my skin by pairing a soothing body oil with an effective moisturizer. Particularly during the winter, when our skin is prone to dryness, lathering on the lotion and prioritizing products that offer deep hydration is a must. Nourishing ingredients like those featured in Vertly’s California Bloom Body Oil (hi—calendula flower, chamomile, sweet almond oil, and olive squalane), keep my skin happy all throughout the day. That’s the power of a restorative nighttime routine.

Make Bedtime a Ritual

A calming, soul-nourishing one at that. All throughout your holiday nighttime routine, the goal is to help you transition from the frenzied busyness of your workday to a serene state before falling asleep. When my insomnia was particularly bad, I made the mistake of watching a cortisol-boosting movie before getting into bed. Not ideal. Nowadays, I protect my bedtime at all costs, ensuring all screens are off well before my bedtime—usually an hour before falling asleep.

After I put on my pajamas and lit my bedside candle (I’m sure you can sense a pattern here… ) I love getting cozy with a book. And though I love a good, fast-paced narrative, I tend to reserve my evening reading for self-help books only. That way, I feel inspired, but I’m not caught up in an action-packed plot. And while reading may not happen every night, I’m adamant about jotting down my thoughts and reflecting on the day in my guided journal. Though I’ve committed to a journaling ritual for years, I’ve found that the Five-Minute Journal is an easy, accessible way to fall in love with the practice.

From there, I put on a silk eye mask—one that both blocks out light and provides a nice weight on my face. My silk pillowcases are also a nice touch of luxury that keeps my hair frizz-free and any wrinkles at bay. Trust me, they’re worth the hype.

Final Thoughts

A holiday nighttime routine should focus on quiet and simplicity. While we’re all for dropping the rules when it comes to celebrating this special time of year, we also acknowledge that carving out space to slow down and savor these treasured moments is so important. And yes, that applies to the parties with friends and evenings at the dinner table with family, but it also calls you to prioritize the time you spend alone. Remember: during this busy season when we give so much to others, know there’s importance—and really, a need—to connect with yourself.

How to Stay Healthy During Holiday Travels—It’s Simpler Than You Think

Show of hands for those who typically need a vacation after their vacation to catch up on sleep, movement, and life in general? That has always been the case for me. A few years ago, I set a rule that I wouldn’t plan anything two days before or after a vacation so I could take intentional time to get ready, feel rested, and not overwhelm myself with plans. For as long as I can remember, the recurring theme in my life has always been to slow down. (This could probably be the theme song to my life.) I’m someone who likes her hands in many projects and loves a filled social calendar. So—knowing how to stay healthy while flying and traveling everywhere? Hasn’t always been my strong suit.

Exactly What I Do to Stay Healthy While Flying

This year been filled with the most travel I’ve ever had both professionally and personally. To say I’ve been stretched and busier than ever would be a huge understatement. So, just before I set out on my 10-day vacation to Croatia to celebrate a milestone birthday for my sister, I wrote a list of how I wanted to feel when I got back to Austin. Refreshed, inspired, motivated, hydrated, and rested were all top of mind. From there, it was easy to figure out how I was going to stay the course and feel like I didn’t have to play catch up when I returned home. 

To share what worked and help us all stay healthy while flying this season, here’s what I did to stay on track and feel my best.

Drink a Ton of Water

It’s one of the simplest things to do. But for me, it’s also one of the easiest things to overlook. I rarely drink enough water on the road as I’m in between hotels and meetings. Plus, lugging around a water bottle feels annoying or gets expensive.

This trip, I made a concerted effort to pack my favorite water bottle and fill it up at the airport, in the hotel bar, and at restaurants so I always had something nearby. It’s small enough that it fit in my bag without being too bulky or heavy and I never once felt parched or dehydrated, which always tends to slow me down. 

Block My Calendar in Advance

I realize not everyone will have the ability to do this for a variety of reasons, but I made a concerted effort to not book plans for an entire week after I returned from vacation. That included striking morning coffee meetings and any dinners or events, no matter how strong the FOMO, for the entire week through the weekend.

I wanted a chance to unpack, do laundry, go for long walks, and take time to ease into the work week ahead. Giving everyone a heads up well in advance also helped them plan a bit better around my schedule and any deadlines were easily hit due to some additional and intentional planning. 

Don’t Use the Gym

Did that one make you tilt your head and pause in curiosity? I know a LOT of friends who make an effort to get up early and hit the gym while they’re on the road, but I made the decision not to for a few reasons. First, I was just getting over a terrible respiratory infection and flu and thought if I tried to push it too hard, I might end up back to square one of being sick. Second, I wanted my movement to be dual-purpose and soaked up all the walks and hikes we took every single day around the cities we visited. This was my vacation and I wanted some slow mornings of exploring—it was perfect for me and still hit well over 10,000 steps a day. (As always, you do you!)

Pack All the Snacks

Depending on how you vacation, a lot of trips typically mean eating out every meal. At least, that was the case for us as we hotel hopped vs. renting a home for an extended period of time. I wanted to try a lot of the local cuisine, but didn’t want the heavy feeling of eating out for every single meal. (Feeling it both physically and in my bank account.)

I found it helpful to pack snacks that were easy to pop into my bag and felt nutritious for me: nuts, jerky, dried oatmeal, almond crackers, and protein powder. It certainly helped balance the amount of eating out we did. I’ve taken plenty of trips where I didn’t plan ahead and found myself reaching for something less nutritious every day and feeling sluggish when I returned. 

Prioritize Rest

This one was the hardest for me, but well worth it. As my therapist recently advised, I need to learn to snack on fun vs. binge on fun. What she means is, I work so hard, typically go head down, that the moment I give myself a break to have fun, I never want it to end. Throw me in a new country with my sister to celebrate something big, and it almost felt impossible to suggest that we should go home and rest. But as I get older, I’m finding if I don’t get a full 7-9 hours of sleep, I’m not just wiped the next day, but it usually lingers longer. We got some of the best sleep and I was so happy to come home and not feel like I needed an extra week of catching up on it. 

These might seem like no-brainer suggestions as they’re all things we’ve heard before to implement in our daily lives, but it was prioritizing them that really took the work for me. I hope they help you stay healthy while flying, and ensure your holidays and travel go off without a hitch.

3 Days in Tokyo—Where to Eat, Stay, and Explore

If you’re lucky enough to travel to Tokyo at some point, it’s likely that you’ll leave with a different feeling than you’d expect. Little did I know the largest metro city in the world would teach me to slow down, savor the moment, and live with less. I boarded the plane home with a deep reverence for the Japanese culture and way of life. Their ability to balance tradition and modernity, a respect for and a wish to live in harmony with nature, and an emphasis on politeness and moderation. Any time I’ve had the chance to travel to one of the world’s major cities like New York City or Paris, I’ve witnessed the hustle and living life at full throttle. I found that I returned to Austin with a distinct sense of peace and rejuvenation.

Tokyo Travel Guide: 3 Days to Savor and Explore

Despite being the most densely populated city in the world, Tokyo marches to the beat of its own drum. (When you see pork cutlets paired with a yogurt parfait, you’ll know what I mean.) In terms of technology, transportation, and trends, Japan feels leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the world.

Little did I know the largest metro city in the world would teach me to slow down, savor the moment, and live with less.

I left knowing I’d barely scratched the surface of this massive city. It’s hard to do Tokyo justice in a single travel guide, but ahead, I’m sharing the sights, eats, and activities we enjoyed plus recommendations from trusted friends that we are saving for next time.

Tips for Visiting Tokyo for the First Time

As beginners, we were surprised to find that Tokyo was fairly easy to navigate. While very few people outside the hotel spoke English, many of the signs and menus had English translations. The neighborhoods are also easy to remember because they all have their own distinct ethos.

Here are a few tips for success if you’re headed to Tokyo for the first time.

  1. Download Google Translate. While there was plenty of English signage and we were able to navigate the city fairly easily, Google Translate came in handy when we outside the hotel. Especially the ability to upload photos of menus, signs, etc.
  2. Bring cash for cabs, restaurants, etc. Credit cards are not accepted in a lot of places. It can be difficult to find ATMs, but most 7-Elevens and CitiBanks have them.
  3. Avoid eating and drinking on the go. It’s considered impolite to consume food or drinks while walking the streets. Plus, there are no trashcans on the streets so you’ll need to hold onto any trash.
  4. Leave time in your itinerary to wander. We stumbled across our favorite spots when we had time to just explore and discover. Pick a cool neighborhood to check out and see where the wind takes you.
  5. Tipping is not customary in Japan. Some restaurants will include a service charge on the bill.
  6. The taxi door will close automatically when you get out. You do not need to shut the door yourself. I had a hard time breaking this habit.

When to Visit Tokyo

  1. Spring (March to May). This is the most popular time to visit Tokyo when the cherry blossoms are in bloom and the weather is mild and sunny.
  2. Summer (June to August). Summer is hot and humid in Tokyo, but if you’re not afraid of the heat this is a great time to enjoy the city outside the busy season.
  3. Fall (September to November). While September is still pretty hot and humid, the weather begins to dip at the end of the month and the leaves will begin to turn.
  4. Winter (December to February). Winter in Tokyo can be cold, but I would love to go back to soak up the holiday season and hit up a nearby ski mountain.

Getting to Tokyo

Tokyo has two major airports: Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND). While Narita is the main international airport in the city, Haneda is closer to the city center. Both airports are well-connected to downtown Tokyo by train, bus, and taxi.

Coming from Austin, we decided to fly in and out of LAX, and then fly directly to Tokyo. Once we got to LA, we took the direct overnight flight to Haneda. Our flight took off at 12:50 am PST (which was almost 3 in the morning Austin time), but our best bet was to stay up until we could pass out on the plane. This was difficult but worth it because once we landed, it was easier to adjust to the time zone.

Where to Stay: Best Tokyo Hotels

Just like any major city, there is no shortage of amazing hotels in Tokyo. Depending on your budget and preferences, you may want to start by figuring out what neighborhood you want to be your home base and research hotels around there. If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, consider staying in the Ginza or Shinjuku districts. If you’re looking for something on the more hipster/trendy side, the Shibuya and Asakusa districts have great hotel options.

Peninsula Hotel Tokyo

Centrally located and only a five-minute taxi ride from the Tokyo Central Train Station, the Peninsula Hotel was the ideal home base for our stay. The staff was incredibly warm and friendly, and the 23-story hotel boasts incredible views of Ginza and the imperial palace. The rooms are decorated in a mix of traditional Japanese and modern styles mirroring the old-meets-new vibe of Tokyo itself.

Highlights of our stay included the expansive indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and luxurious spa, and the daily breakfast is a can’t-miss. We were grateful to spend our first trip to the city at such an iconic Tokyo institution.

Trunk Hotel

This hotel came highly recommended by so many friends, and when we stopped by for a coffee we could see why. The lobby is trendy and buzzing with people working and hanging out. It’s located conveniently in Shibuya so you’re steps away from some of the most amazing restaurants and shopping in all of Tokyo.

Aman Hotel Tokyo

If you’re able to splurge, this hotel was quite impressive. Friends of ours who had stayed there said it was an over-the-top experience. We stopped by for afternoon tea and were blown away by the sleek, modern interiors and incredible service. It’s located in the Otemachi district and near all major metro lines.

Where to Eat in Tokyo

Tokyo is a foodie’s paradise, and it’s tough to narrow down the restaurant options when you have hundreds of thousands of world-class restaurants to choose from. Definitely try to plan ahead and make reservations when you can, because a lot of the best restaurants are small and can only accommodate a few tables. If you have access to a hotel concierge, they’re a great resource for recommending spots and helping navigate reservations.

Restaurants

Seirinkan and Savoy. Didn’t expect to find the best pizza of your life in Japan? Neither did we. These two pizza restaurants are world-renowned and for good reason.

Eatrip. This place can be tricky to find but serves fresh farm-to-table dishes in an inventive way. The menu changes regularly based on what’s in season.

Ol by Oslo Brewing Company. When you’ve had enough Japanese food and your taco cravings hit, this tiny brewery in the heart of Shibuya has an incredible taco truck outside that even we Austinites were impressed with. Plus, the beers on draft are refreshing after a day of walking around in the sun.

Narukiyo. If you’re looking for fun, hilarious vibes, and great Japanese food, this is your spot. There is no menu at this restaurant and the food is served Omakase style, so they’ll keep bringing it out until you tell them you’re done. The best thing we ate was the grilled Wagyu beef.

Yakumo Saryo. When we asked a friend who’s traveled to Tokyo many times what her favorite restaurant was, this was her answer. Previously a private club, this restaurant was reservation-only and Omakase style. Many of the dishes are prepared right next to the table and the interiors are beautiful.

Sushi Ginza Onodera. We didn’t get a chance to eat here but we heard this is a great spot for some of the highest-quality sushi in all of Ginza. It’s open for both lunch and dinner but reservations are required.

Tsukiji Fish Market. A global hub for seafood, this is where all of the sushi chefs and five-star hotels come to source their fish. It’s one of the largest and busiest fish markets in the world and the outdoor area is said to be a great place to buy fresh seafood, produce and other Japanese goods.

Fuku. Located in Shibuya, this Michelin-starred restaurant is consistently ranked as one of the best in Tokyo. We didn’t get to eat here but I’ve heard great things about their innovative dishes like the foie gras and wagyu beef tataki.

Kondo. Another Michelin-star restaurant serving some of the best sushi and tempura around. The restaurant only has 10 seats and every guest is served by the head chef himself.

Yakumo. This restaurant in the Aoyama district is a great option if you’re looking to enjoy traditional Japanese food including sushi and kaiseki cuisine.

Maisen Aoyama. This restaurant was recommended for its high-quality tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlets).

Cafés and Treats

Banana Juice. After plenty of Japanese food, I was craving a smoothie—and banana juice was the closest thing. Stop by this tiny shop tucked into an alleyway in Ginza and order one of their banana-based blended concoctions for a healthy milkshake-like treat.

Path. A French café that serves coffee and pastries during the day and delicious European-inspired cuisine at night. Camille loved the croissants at this little café and the woman knows her croissants.

Chatei Hatou. A cozy café with coffee and pastries that gives off an old-world vibe. Come here for the slow-drip coffee and nostalgia.

Camelback. Tiny take-out café with Brooklyn vibes and the MOST incredible sandwiches and coffee.

7-Eleven. Trust us. The 7-Elevens in Japan are impressive. You can find some amazing steals when you peruse the aisles.

What to Do in Tokyo: The Sights

Art Galleries

Mori Art Museum. A contemporary art museum with rotating exhibitions. This is a good one to dip your toes into the modern art scene in Tokyo and can be explored in 1-2 hours.

National Museum of Modern Art. Founded in 1952, this museum holds an impressive 100,000+ works of contemporary art. If you’re an art lover this is a must-stop.

TeamLab Planets. If you’re looking for a more immersive art experience, TeamLab Planets is a digital art museum that’s fun for any age. My husband and I got to experience art in a whole new way at this museum. Try walking through the rainbow water barefoot or wading your way through a room completely made of foam.

Temples and Shrines

Meiji Shrine: While Tokyo is a modern metropolis, it’s still filled with rich history and historical sites. The Meiji Shrine is one of the most popular and lies in a forest in the heart of the city. It was completed in 1920 and the grounds cover over 170 acres with beautiful walking trails. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Go to a Sumo Tournament

One of my biggest regrets from the trip was not attending the Sumo national championship tournament that was going on while we were in Tokyo. I’ve heard from friends that this is an unforgettable experience and I plan on attending one next time.

Visit Shibuya Crossing

Shibuya Crossing is one of the busiest intersections in the world and lies in the middle of one of the most popular shopping districts. At any point, you can see thousands of people crossing the crosswalks at once. It’s a bit chaotic at times but a great way to experience the energy and excitement of the city.

Shopping

Daikanyama T-Site. This is a shop to get lost in. It’s also an architectural gem with stunning design, a gorgeous café, and rooms lined with books, stationery, kitchenware, and more. I could have spent hours in this store.

Beams. This Japanese clothing store is filled with stunning men’s and women’s options. Camille and Adam both found great pieces here.

Ginza. This neighborhood is known for high-end shopping and luxury goods. You can find everything from designer clothes and handbags to fine art and jewelry.

Harajuku and Shimokitazawa. Stumble upon vintage shopping, streetwear, and trendy cafés and restaurants.

3 Days in Kyoto—Here’s Where to Eat, Stay, and Shop

As the bullet train began to slow, the automated voice over the speaker announced (first in Japanese and then in English) that we should be ready to deboard—the train would be stopped for 1 minute, and only 1 minute. We quickly gathered our things, scurried out of the train station and stepped into Kyoto, a city that’s been on my bucket list for a decade. As expected, it turned out to be an experience unlike any other.

Kyoto’s character is impossible to sum up in a paragraph, but here are a few things that make it such a special place. First, as the old capital of Japan, Kyoto was the center of arts, so today it’s brimming with the country’s richest cultural traditions, from the Japanese tea ceremony to the art of flower arranging. The city’s history spans more than 1,200 years, and its cuisine, craftsmanship, and many UNESCO World Heritage Sites have greatly influenced the country as a whole.

Yet this feeling of ancient history is balanced by a modernity—not only is Kyoto an incredibly creative city, it possesses an orderliness that feels light years ahead of the US. Exhibit A: the train station toilets’ high-tech functionality that kept them sparkling clean—and even played nature sound effects if I so desired.

I’ve only scratched the surface of experiencing Kyoto’s many layers, and I have no doubt that each time I return, I’ll understand it in a deeper way. But through the months of planning our trip, I dove headfirst into research and came away with so many recommendations from trusted friends, I wanted to share the travel guide that I created for our group to experience Kyoto for the first time. Read on for what to do to experience Kyoto to its fullest.

What to know about Kyoto

If you’re dreaming of a journey to Japan that’s steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty, then Kyoto should be at the top of your list. Think ancient temples, stunning gardens, and rich traditions around every corner. Here are a few basics you should know if you’re planning a trip:

  1. Respect Local Customs: Kyoto is deeply rooted in tradition, so it’s essential to be respectful. Bowing is a common greeting, and remember to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple.
  2. Dress Modestly: When visiting temples and shrines, dress modestly by covering your shoulders and knees. This shows respect for the sacred places you’re exploring.
  3. Cash is King: While credit cards are accepted at major hotels and some restaurants, it’s wise to carry cash, as many smaller shops and traditional establishments prefer it.
  4. Plan in Advance: Kyoto has incredible restaurants and great hotels, from traditional ryokans to modern hotels. However, especially during peak season, it’s essential to make reservations well in advance. There were a handful of restaurants I wanted to try that we weren’t able to get into due to limited seating.
  5. Don’t Rush: Take your time to soak in the culture and tranquility of Kyoto. Rushing from one attraction to another can lead to missing the true essence of this captivating city, and many of our best experiences came from just wandering around and discovering shops and cafés as we explored.

When to visit Kyoto

  1. Spring (March to May): This is the iconic cherry blossom season in Kyoto. Just be aware that this is a busy time for tourists, so book your accommodation well in advance.
  2. Summer (June to August): Summers in Kyoto are can be hot and humid. While it’s the off-peak season for tourists, there is a higher possibility of rain during this time.
  3. Autumn (September to November): Arguably the most beautiful time to visit Kyoto, autumn brings breathtaking foliage that creates a stunning backdrop for photos.
  4. Winter (December to February): Winters in Kyoto are relatively mild, and you can enjoy fewer crowds and lower prices. I would love to experience the light displays during the holiday season!

How to get to Kyoto

To get to Kyoto, the closest airport to fly into is Kansai International Airport (KIX). KIX is well-connected to major international destinations and is just a train ride away from Kyoto. Another option is Osaka International Airport (ITM), which is closer to Kyoto but serves mostly domestic flights.

Since we were flying in from the US, we decided to take a direct flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Haneda International Airport in Tokyo (HND), then we hopped on the bullet train and went straight to Kyoto.

Once you land, the Haruka Express from KIX, the Limited Express from ITM or the Bullet Train from Tokyo will conveniently transport you to Kyoto Station. The train ride is an amazing part of the journey, offering scenic views of Japan’s countryside.

Where to stay: Best Kyoto Hotels

Kyoto has great options when it comes to hotels, from traditional ryokans to modern hotels. However, especially during peak season, it’s essential to make reservations well in advance as they get booked up quickly.

This was our home base for the first leg of our stay, and I can’t imagine a more warm and welcoming place to experience Kyoto for the first time. Its sleek and modern interior is juxtaposed by the beautiful nature surrounding you, thanks to the floor to ceiling windows that bring the outdoors in. The 800-year-old Shakusui-en pond garden is arguably the focal point of the hotel—walking across it surrounded by cherry blossoms, Japanese maples, and weeping willows was the cortisol-lowering experience I needed to sink into the Kyoto experience. Don’t miss the incredible breakfast served in the restaurant each morning. The only hard part is deciding between the Japanese breakfast or the incredibly delicious pastries.

For the final two days of our trip, we relocated to Hoshinoya, in Arashiyama which is on the western outskirts of Kyoto. You access the hotel via a boat that takes you along the Oi River—and the 15-minute ride truly transports you to another, more soothing and peaceful world. Surrounded by forest-covered hills, you’re taken to a wood guest pavilions designed in an elegant and traditional Japanese style. Fresh slippers and a linen lounge set await you, and as you step onto the freshly laid tatami matting, you know you’re in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. During our two days at Hoshinoya, we participated in the most inspiring incense ceremony, dined on traditional Japanese cuisine, relaxed and ate breakfast overlooking the river, and explored the nearby temple and bamboo forests. The entire experience reawakened my senses to the beauty of nature and slowing down.

On the complete other end of the spectrum is the new Ace Hotel. It’s buzzy, it’s modern, and it’s a good value in a city where it’s a little more challenging to find a decently priced room that still boasts comfort and luxury. It also offers a break from Japanese food, in case taco cravings strike (guilty!) With 3 restaurants, a rooftop bar, and a Stumptown coffee, the Ace feels like a taste of Brooklyn set right in the center of Kyoto.

Where to eat: Best Kyoto Restaurants

Kyoto is widely known to be an incredibly food city. However, I didn’t fully understand the food scene until I experienced it firsthand, so I think that on a return trip, I’ll feel much more confident in knowing where to go. My biggest tip is to book reservations as far in advance as possible! Many of the restaurants are small, and they book up well in advance. Below are the best restaurants where we ate in Kyoto, plus a few that came highly recommended that I didn’t get to experience on this trip.

Tempura Matsu: This celebrated tempura restaurant is located in the Arashiyama district in west Kyoto. It serves traditional Japanese cuisine in courses and is widely thought to serve the best tempura in Kyoto.

OMEN: Our first stop when we got to Kyoto, OMEN is a tiny spot with the best udon noodles of my life.

Monk: My biggest regret was not scoring a reservation at Monk, which is incredibly popular ever since the chef, Yoshihiro Imai’s appearance on Chef’s Table. Monk is a fourteen-seat, omakase-style menu restaurant set on the Philosopher’s Path that focuses on pizza. Next time.

Hitomi: a popular yakitori spot with delicious food and fun vibes—book ahead.

Sushi Matsumoto: We wanted to experience a traditional omakase sushi meal on our first night, and Sushi Matsumoto certainly delivered. Every bite was delicious, and I actually lost track of how many courses had been served. Next time, I might schedule this when we weren’t hit so hard by jetlag to fully appreciate the beauty of each course.

Censi: A Japanese menu with Italian influence, this is a warm and welcoming spot that made it on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

Mama Arashiyama: Adam and I spent our last night in Kyoto at this beautiful Italian restaurant in Arashiyama. We loved the way they blended a Japanese approach into our pasta and pizza-filled dinner. A great spot to go if you want elevated food in relaxed, casual surroundings.

Stardust: a vegan café that I heard SO many raves about, but that happened to be closed while we were there.

Tan: I really wanted to go to this farm-to-table restaurant, but sadly they were booked up. Highly recommended from trusted friends.

Cafés and coffeeshops

Bread & Espresso & Arashiyama: the perfect spot to stop for coffee and a pastry or sandwich if you’re in Arashiyama.

Tsujiri Tea House: a green tea store that’s also famous for their matcha ice cream and desserts.

Kishin Kissa – the most aesthetic coffee shop with a small but delicious menu of snacks, sweets, and matcha.

Me Me Me Coffee House: Go for breakfast, try the donuts.

What to do in Kyoto: the sights

Explore historic Kyoto

Ninnenzaka and Sannenzaka Streets are full of quaint shops to explore. Put on your most comfortable shoes and go up the hills of the Higashiyama District. Along the way, see the Kiyomizu Temple at top of hill, and the Kodaiji Temple with beautiful architecture and zen gardens

Visit the temples

Rokuon-Ji Temple (Golden Pavillion): This breathtaking golden pavilion is a must see.

Daitokuji Temple: There are 22 sub-temples within this monastery complex but only 4 sub-temples are visible to the public.

Ryoanji Temple: This temple has the most famous rock garden in Kyoto.

Arashiyama

Our time in Arashiyama was definitely one of my favorite parts of our entire trip. If you’re not staying here, dedicate a full day to see some amazing fall foliage (or cherry blossoming) and see the following:

  • Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
  • The Iwatayama Monkey Park on the slopes of Arashiyama. Over 170 monkeys live at the park. While the monkeys are wild, they have become accustomed to humans. The park is on a small mountain not far from the Saga-Arashiyama rail station. Visitors can approach and photograph the monkeys. At the summit is a fenced enclosure where visitors can feed the monkeys.
  • The “Moon Crossing Bridge” (Togetsukyo, notable for its views of cherry blossoms and autumn colors on the slopes of Arashiyama.

Shopping in Kyoto

Kyoto is famous for its craftsmanship, so take some time to peruse Chawanzaka Street (aka teapot lane) full of traditional pottery shops sloping down from the Kiyomizu-dera Temple.

POJ Studio is my favorite shop in Kyoto. From the ceramics to the incense to the DIY Kintsugi kits, I wanted to bring everything home with me. Thankfully, they ship to the US (and I ordered one of their woven tapestries for our living room wall.)

Go to Nishiki Market

The most famous food market in Kyoto, Nishiki Market is definitely worth a visit. Stroll through the seemingly endless stalls to see and taste things you’ve never seen before. Look for Green tea mochi, sashimi skewers, and a few things that might make your stomach turn (ie the grilled sparrow.) We loved the soft serve with manuka honey.

Stroll down Philosopher’s Path

This is a gorgeous stone path along a canal, lined with trees and cute shops and restaurants. The path takes its name from the 20th century philosophy professor Nishida Kitaro, who walked along the path daily while meditating on the problems involved in reconciling Japanese and Western schools of thought. On a future trip, I would spend even more time strolling here, soaking up the beauty and visiting spots along the way.

Get dinner or drinks in Pontocho Alley

Historic and lively at night, lined with great hole-in-the-wall bars. Take a stroll across the banks of Kamogawa River around sunset on your way.

The New Dinner Party Rules: An Etiquette Expert Shares What’s Outdated and What’s Here to Stay

Emily Post’s presence was felt throughout my childhood home (my mom displayed her etiquette bible proudly on our bookshelf). From how we set the table to dinner party etiquette to the respect we showed one another—these “rules” guided much of my younger life. They’ve also played a key role in who I’ve grown up to be. Yes, while you might be rolling your eyes at the idea of etiquette—and an elementary-age girl taking so much interest in the subject—it’s back in a big way. And because we’re all craving more gatherings, connection, and togetherness in 2023, knowing your dinner party etiquette is more important now than ever.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Image by Riley Reed

Dinner Party Etiquette: Everything You Need to Know for 2023

In the words of etiquette expert Heather Wiese, etiquette “is a path to compassion, consideration, and even empathy.” When posited that way, how could you not see the need for more etiquette in our world today?

To get a better idea of what’s expected of us (both as guests and as hosts), I chatted with Heather about all things etiquette. We spoke about what the concept means in 2023, how to navigate hostess gifts for every occasion, and the complex matter of dietary preferences. Be sure to read to the end—Heather’s sharing what’s in and what’s out for perfecting your dinner party etiquette.

Image by Michelle Nash

“Etiquette” in this day and age can seem outdated. What does it mean for you in 2023?

This is a great question. What’s outdated about etiquette is the idea that etiquette is outdated. I love that there’s a new buzz around reformatting our ideas and ideals of protocol. Behavior is the elephant in the room no one can avoid. We all might as well harness it and learn to handle it well. Modern etiquette guidelines are the tools you need to realize what isn’t typically obvious to you. Frankly, these revelations make the difference between being perceived as gracious and impressive or possibly lacking in an ability to relate or conduct yourself well in a given situation.

Image by Michelle Nash

How can etiquette be used as a tool to help us act more respectfully and thoughtfully toward others?

Reprogram your idea of etiquette. It’s a word many of us need to reconsider and redefine in our minds in order to see its real value. If you use etiquette to feel more elite or one-up someone, you’ve missed the boat completely (and you can assume everyone saw the big splash into a self-absorbed abyss). Etiquette is a path to compassion, consideration, and even empathy when used as intended.

Reprogram your idea of etiquette. It’s a word many of us need to reconsider and redefine in our minds in order to see its real value.

Image by Michelle Nash

What are some good examples of host gifts to bring to a dinner party? Do you always have to bring a gift?

The key phrase here was “dinner party.” Yes—always contribute. If you’re helping with the dinner itself, there might be something small in addition you can bring that says, “I appreciate you hosting.” However, when you’re arriving as a carefree guest being served, a modest but thoughtful gift is a big YES.

I’ll give you a few scenarios from my past few weeks. Over the holiday, I was invited to my parents’ friends for a casual dinner and football-watching. They made dinner. He has a wine collection I’d be intimidated to grace with my last-minute local purchase. Instead, I brought a pretty desk calendar from my collection.

There really are only two rules: consider the host, contribute something material in some way.

I’ve picked up some funny cocktail napkins, a nice candle, and some gourmet chocolates on different occasions for similar parties. Last week I was invited to the home of someone I don’t know well. I had no idea of their style. I grabbed a gift tag from my stash and a fresh orchid on the way to the dinner party. Last night I headed out last-minute to a friend’s house for an impromptu dinner. I grabbed a bottle of wine from my stash so I didn’t show up empty-handed. There really are only two rules: consider the host, contribute something material in some way.

Image by Belathée Photography

Dietary preferences are so common these days. What are some ways to navigate this as a guest? What about if you’re the host?

If you’re the guest and you have true dietary restrictions, you’ve been doing this dance far longer than any of us have been commenting on the subject. I commend you for showing up and doing what you can to be social and relatively discrete with a difficult situation. Everyone I’ve encountered with these issues has always handled it so well. They contact the host ahead, sometimes bring their own food, and put everyone at ease as they navigate their critical musts. Seeing this done graciously is truly impressive.

Hosts, it’s always good to ask if anyone has any dietary limitations and if you’re feeling accommodating if anyone has any preferences—although the latter is not necessary. If you do have someone who requires special food handling, ask their advice and take it. Take it as a chance to learn from someone’s experiences.

Image by Julie Pointer Adams

It’s 2023—what’s in and what’s out in the world of dinner party etiquette?

What’s in:

  1. Good manners and thoughtfulness. Knowing how to set the table isn’t out of style by any means. If you’re truly into entertaining, knowing some modern trends to offer up is always good.
  2. Know the source. Growing sustainably, responsibly, locally—these are all growing in popularity and they are great dinner party conversation. Be ready for interesting meals that bring conversation to the table.
  3. Mocktails. That’s right! They aren’t just for moms-to-be anymore. Creative juices and flavor are flowing and so fun to make. There’s now a trendy take on being healthier, pacing yourself better, or simply avoiding alcohol altogether.
  4. Mushrooms, roots, and foraging. Unique fruits aren’t out altogether, but the earthy elements and backwoods fare are having their day.
  5. Experiences. Maybe it’s because we’re all out of our cages with a new view on life and friends and celebrating. Whatever the reason, planning out themes, bringing in a pro, or creating an experiential environment is definitely having a moment.
  6. Etiquette! No, really. People are arming themselves with civility and modern manners for no other reason, just to have an enjoyable night away from the norm. Come looking educated in this little movement with questions to make conversation like: How do you know the host? How do you like to spend your free time? Do you get to travel or if you could, where would you love to go? Are you watching a good series or reading a good book?

What’s out:

In general, a dinner party is about people gathering and having a great time. These are the buzz-kills you should always avoid, especially now.

  1. Bringing bought food when everyone else has contributed a homemade dish.
  2. Bringing your complaints or divisive conversations to the party.
  3. Cooking with canned, preservative-loaded foods.
  4. Talking to only the people you know and not asking questions to learn about new subjects or people (it’s just a few hours, you can do it!).
  5. Bringing up how much something costs or how much someone, including yourself, makes.
  6. Arriving early. Give your hosts time to do their thing. Don’t show up early and cut their timeline short.
  7. Arriving fashionably rudely late. Let’s be real, dinner parties aren’t business meetings—unless they sort-of are. A good guideline is 5-10 min grace from the host’s recommended start time.