Take your shoes off
Dragging dirt through your host’s beautifully-kept home is frowned upon in Austria – especially in the cold winter months when snow and grit becomes the norm. In most cases, you’ll be asked to take your shoes off somewhere close to the front door and you might be offered a pair of felt slippers (Schlapfen) to wear for the evening. They have limited sex appeal but are great for sliding around on wooden floors.
Remember where you put your coat
The first thing you’ll do when you arrive is take off your coat, hat and scarf. But make sure you remember where you left them – they are likely to be among scores of identical down jackets and woollens left lingering around your host’s house during the bitter Austrian winter.
Bring a gift for your host
It’s normal to bring a bottle of wine, some flowers or something sweet for your host when you’re invited to a party. If it’s a sit-down dinner party then you will be expected to be on time – ‘fashionably late’ just doesn’t cut it and won’t win you many friends in Austria.
Make an effort to be presentable
Turning up in something resembling pyjamas with bed-head isn’t an option in Austria (unless you’re at a student squat party in Vienna maybe) – Austrians like to make an effort when they go out, and err on the conservative side. So make sure you look presentable to the outside world before the gathering if you don’t want to be shunned by more well-groomed folk.
Get your drinking boots on
Alcohol plays an important role in Austrian culture. In fact, the country recently ranked second in the list of OECD countries with the highest alcohol consumption among adults (coming in after Lithuania). But how often do you see an Austrian truly blind drunk? They seem to be able to handle their drink well, whether it’s Grüner Veltliner, Sturm, or Sekt. So remember to pace yourself, and approach the super strong Schnapps that’s sure to be proffered at the end of the night with some caution. Prost!
Try not to make fun of the music
Austrians seem to love 80s pop music – especially anything by their hero Falco. They might also think it’s a fun idea to play some Schlager hits. So make sure you learn the lyrics to Rock Me Amadeus and prepare to focus on the conversation rather than the music.
Don’t be coy
In Austria, it’s not considered rude to look at people and make eye contact, in fact it’s normal. Where in other countries you might give someone a quick appreciative glance and then look away, if you’re interested in someone in Austria you should look straight at them (smile and then go and talk to them soon after – otherwise you risk coming across as a stalker). And when you are talking do be direct and say what you mean – and don’t take offence when others do the same.
Recycle your bottles and cans
Almost all glass bottles and aluminium cans are recycled in Austria and if you’re at a party it’s likely that your host will be collecting them somewhere. Some of the glass bottles will be taken back to the shop in return for a small deposit (Pfand). So don’t throw them away and try not to break them – they’re worth a few coins and it’s good for the environment!
Respect “quiet time”
Austrian parties may go on into the wee hours but you should be careful not to disturb the neighbours as you make your way home. Austrians (especially the older generation) are serious about their Ruhezeit – which means no noise after 10pm or before 6am and in many places includes all of Sunday. They won’t take kindly to rowdy revellers interrupting their lie-in.
Puking is simply not done in public. If you must call Ralph on the great white telephone, do it in private – although you can ask a girlfriend to hold your hair.
Never Prosit without booze
Of course, you already know it's essential to look people in the eyes when clinking glasses, and saying Prosit – the Austrian equivalent of cheers. Failing to look your partner in the eyes means seven years of bad sex. But it's a real social faux pas to do this if you don't actually have alcohol – so if you're the designated driver, you're out of luck.