I host a LOT of parties, large parties, big dinner parties, cocktail gatherings, themed parties, happy hours, small intimate dinners. One of my favorite things in life is to indulge my culinary creativity crafting special food and drink menus and invite people over to mingle, eat, drink and have fun.
I enjoy the work of creating these meals and gatherings and spend a lot of time on the menus and planning. The word is my parties are tons of fun and no one ever leaves hungry.
I especially delight in the mix of diverse people. I don't care where you come from, what you do for a living, what language you speak, what you wear or how much you eat or drink. Nor do I expect guests to help me prepare food, serve or clean up. I just want you to enjoy the food, cocktails, and special mix of great people.
However, over the years I have had more than a few unfortunate experiences where some guests behave in ways that mostly unintentionally cause stress for me as a hostess.
Ninety-eight percent of my guests are well mannered and lovely. However, grrrrrrr...there are the 2% that makes me want to stop what I am doing and throw a plate of appetizers against the wall.
That's the last thing anyone needs when trying to pull a party together.
Most likely, these guests are not aware they are creating a ripple in my otherwise zen zone of party planning. So the purpose of this post is to put it out there for awareness. Consider this a party public service announcement. No offense intended.
If you are a hostess with the mostest or even the leastest you may relate to some of these behaviors below. As a guest, you may find actions on this list you are previously unaware of doing. You should stop doing them. Immediately.
My point of pointing these out is not to alienate any of my friends nor to insult or hurt anyone's feelings. I am making light of it for the entertainment and educational value. No whining, just trying to help the #winning for everyone.
My guests' gaffe gripes come with handy solutions for both parties. This is my personal list. Please feel free to chime in below in the comments with your own additions.
Showing up too early.
Just. Don't. Seriously. Unless you have made prior arrangements with your host or hostess to arrive before everyone else to help set up, or chat before other guests arrive, do not, under any circumstances knock on the door a half hour early, twenty minutes early, ten minutes early.
No early. Period.
Usually, I target my party prep time to finish a half hour to 45 minutes before guests arrive. The last thing I do is prepare myself. I need that time to take a shower, get dressed, do hair and makeup, leaving at least 10-minute window before everyone else gets there.
First of all, I enjoy that quiet time to reset myself after all the food production and setting up to spruce myself up and add any last minute touches before the onslaught of guests.
Second, if you show up early and I don't know you that well, I'm going to feel weird about leaving you in my living room while I take a shower.
Third, once you arrive, I feel like I have to entertain you, fetch you a drink, make small talk, etc. Consequently, getting myself ready goes by the wayside. Now I'm starting my own party unprepared, unshowered, un-made-up, behind schedule and cranky. Very, very, CRANKY.
Hosts: If someone rings the bell too early, just don't answer it. When the texts and the phone calls start shortly afterward, don't answer them either. Once the time that is specified on the invitation arrives, open the door.
Guests: If you know you will arrive in the area early, instead of thinking you can kill time by arriving at the party early, find something else in the area to do before the appointed time. Grab a coffee, get a cocktail or take advantage of the extra time to buy the hostess an outrageously expensive gift.
Calling/texting/messaging for the address and/or directions at the start time of the party when everything was made clear in the invitation weeks ago.
If someone has taken the time to create an invitation with all the details in addition to the time, date and place. Take the time to READ IT, people.
Putting all that information in the invitation is part of the prep for the party, work hosts do ahead of time to make things go easier later. It's now off their list. We do not have the time or enjoy the stress of guiding you to our homes over the phone now the guest arrival crush is happening.
Host: See above for #1.
Guest: Please read the invite thoroughly at least a few days after receiving it. If you are confused about directions, contact your host well before the date of the party. After that, don't call. Don't call. Don't call. Learn to use Google Maps or Waze.
Making your attendance/transportation your host's problem.
We are hosting you in our homes providing delicious food and delightful drinks. Shopping, planning, prepping, cooking, setting up, serving and cleaning are all that we signed up for when creating the event, It's our pleasure to do so. Getting you to the party on top of all is not. That has got to be your responsibility, not ours.
One or two phone calls or emails on the host's behalf to connect people to ride shares are fine. Endless ping-ponging emails and texts about getting a ride or complaints about the cost of public transportation are not fine.
Respect the fact your host or no one else has the time to go back and forth with you 1,000 times about your lack of transportation.
Hosts: When preparing your guest list, make a note of who is coming from where, who has a car, etc. Take a preemptive strike and make the initial introductions. Then, for your own sanity, stay out of it after that. Let your guests work out rides between themselves.
Guests: Do not repeatedly pester your host about transportation. Once they make the initial effort on your behalf and it does not work out, be a grown up and make other arrangements on your own.
Bringing more work for the host/hostess.
Unless it's a potluck event, or cleared with the host beforehand or specified on the invite, do not bring food.
More specifically, do not bring food that has to be heated up.
Even more directly, do not bring a dish that needs to be heated up and then dump it in the kitchen with the host to deal with while you are out enjoying the party.
I do not want to spend the entire evening in the kitchen heating up your dish I did not ask you to bring, that I do not want or need for the menu as well as having to plate and serve it while not spending time with my guests.
Hosts: Please specify clearly on the invite that guests are not to bring anything or exactly what you would like them to contribute to the menu.
Guests: When a host says, "don't bring anything", nine times out of ten, they mean it. If you are the type, like myself who never arrives anywhere empty handed, a bottle of wine or a non-alcoholic drink is almost always welcome for the bar or drink table. A small bag of ice can also go a long way.
A foodie friend of mine suggests to guests who ask to bring her a bottle of olive oil. A useful, lovely hostess gift that lasts a lot longer than flowers and there's no work involved.
Showing up with previously unknown dietary restrictions.
I have no problem adjusting my menu to accommodate vegetarians, vegans, food allergies, gluten-free diets, etc. I always want to make sure everyone has enough delicious food they can eat. However, please people, give me sufficient time to do it.
Do not show up at my door and announce you are a pescatarian, half paleo, nut allergic, breatharian on a garlic cleanse just as platters are being passed. Your host cannot dash out in the middle of the party for a supermarket run to appease your dietary needs.
Also please do not inform your host the day before the party when the menu planning, shopping, and prep work has already been completed. Most likely, they will have no time to adjust the menu. I have learned to refuse to waste my time foraging through my kitchen during a party to create options for diet specific dishes.
Hosts: Give the guest a takeout menu and tell them order food they can eat. Wait and see if they expect you to pay for it as well.
Guests: Please alert your host as soon as possible so they have time to adjust their menu. If you have been a guest before, remind your host of your dietary restrictions. OR bring your own food that is already plated and does not have to be heated up (see #4)
Showing up with uninvited strangers.
I love meeting and welcoming new people to my home and can always adjust to accommodate more guests if I have the proper notice. I am usually pretty flexible a few days before the party if guests call and ask to bring friends or relatives.
Showing up with 10 people you just met on the bus is not cool. What if your host has not made enough food or drinks or does not have enough chairs or just don't want to deal with extra people or adding strangers to the mix?
My pet peeve is when people do this for a sit-down dinner. I hate running for extra place settings, chairs and squeezing and rearranging, re-appropriating menu portions, etc. as extra people walk through my front door. Again, more unnecessary work and stress for the host. Less time to enjoy our own damn party.
Hosts: Slam the door in their faces and lock it.
Just kidding. Make sure you are crystal clear on the invite whether or not the invitee can bring a guest or multiple guests.
Guests: Be an adult and ask your host about bringing along extra people ahead of time. A week in advance would be great.
Showing up with unannounced guests who have dietary restrictions.
See #5 and #6 and combine. Mix thoroughly.
#8Long emails to the host/hostess explaining why you have a problem with another guest and why you may not come.
Let me let you in on a little secret, if I have invited both of you, I don't care.
While I am sympathetic to your friendship or relationship issues, my invitation is not an excuse to triangle me into your drama. If you were both invited, you are both my friends. Either stay home with no fanfare or show up and deal with the situation like an adult.
Under no circumstances do you show up and use my party as an excuse to confront your friend. Trolling for drama at someone else's party is a don't don't don't and will most likely ensure your place on a "don't invite ever again" list.
Hosts: Email guest who alerts you to their problem a very short message. Something like: "Everyone invited is welcome but I understand if you feel too uncomfortable to attend." Do not engage with them further. Do not encourage them to work it out with the other person before the party. Do not get involved. End of story.
Guests: Stay home or show up and shut up.
Your pet is not invited.
When we bought a country home, some friends who are city folks automatically assumed they could bring their pets out with them to run around. Hey, it's the country, right?
Uhh. No thank you. Just because you think your little fur child is adorable and welcome everywhere, chances are country and city people don't want your rambunctious pet in their house. Pet behaviors you tolerate in your own home are not automatically welcomed in other people's abodes.
Hosts and guests don't want pets chewing up shoes, begging for or stealing food from the tables, relieving themselves on floors, placing muddy paw prints all over rugs and furniture or have to spend hours after the party vacuuming up pet hair. All have happened to me.
Please do not just show up with your pet unexpectedly, turn them loose and expect your host to be delighted and clean up after it in addition to the party guests. It is also potentially disrespectful to the other attendees. What if other guests have allergies?
The same policy applies to small children.
With that being said, well-supervised, well-behaved pets and kids are welcome in my home at certain prearranged times when I can make preparations to pet-proof or childproof my home.
Hosts: Make sure you clearly specify on the invitation no pets and if you prefer, no small children.
Guests: Unless you have a service animal, make other arrangements for your pets while you attend the party. If for some reason you need to bring your animal, clear it with your host well before the party date.
Leaving your belongings behind and then making it the host's responsibility to get them back to you.
If you are the type of person who leaves a trail of your belongings wherever you go, blaze right back up that trail and get your stuff back. Your. Self. Arrange to pick the item up or get it picked up. Period. Do not ask your host to run all over town trying to get your stuff back to you. The guest who left the item at the party should be the one inconveniencing themselves to get it back, not the host.
Hosts: Be specific and tell the guest what hours you will be home when the guest is welcome to swing by. Or leave the item at a neutral place locationally convenient for you where the guest can pick it up. If no guest has reported the item missing, post a picture of the item on social media. If it is not claimed in a month, throw it out or donate it to charity.
Guests: You should go out of your way to retrieve your item, not vice versa. On top of everything else, your host is not a delivery service.
These are my top peeves. I have a few others, like people who beg me to change the date of a party so they can attend. Then after I shift everything they don't show up at all with no warning.
Or people who just ignore the invitation not even taking the time to submit an RSVP saying "Will not attend" or show up without submitting an RSVP. Also, those annoying people who cancel last minute or are no-shows because they got a better offer. Please don't ever come back.
Or those always fun guests who lock themselves in the bathroom crying, having sex or generally throwing a tantrum.
What's your party guest pet peeve?