There is a dark side of hosting a party, things we all have seen and heard but no one talks about. It’s time to bring them into the light and discuss them. The worst kinds of guests that attend your party. They are unstoppable, they will not be defeated, there is nothing you can do but be prepared for them; They Who Must Not Be Named (but we totally will.)
The Unexpected Guest
This guest comes in a few different shapes and sizes, but is always characterized by one thing that remains the same. You didn’t know they were coming. Maybe they forgot to R.S.V.P., or perhaps they weren’t even on the guest list, but they heard about your party and didn’t think you’d mind. In any event, you didn’t expect them but here they are. Throwing off your numbers and place settings, and generally causing some difficulties. So what can you do? Obviously you can’t throw them out, if they are a friend or acquaintance that you don’t want to alienate ( remember Maleficent didn’t take not being invited to Sleeping Beauty’s christening very well) so just deal with it gracefully. Grab a folding chair from the basement, and let them in on the fun. And as you are in the kitchen, redistributing portions and mentally calculating if you need to send your husband out for more vodka (for you, not the guest) make a note to triple-check your R.S.V.P.’s next time and maybe invest in that high-tech security system you saw at Costco last week.
So those fantastic prosciutto-wrapped asparagus tips that you made for your party? The ones that cost $35? They are gone, along with the Alaskan King Crab Puffs, and the top-shelf gin. Still there? The Glutton. The guest who feels no remorse or hesitation about making short work of your beautifully prepared selection of appetizers and cocktails. Your other guests will have to make do with chips and salsa and some baby carrots with their sad little dish of ranch dip. The Glutton comes in and makes a beeline for the food table with a gleam in his eye. So start your workouts now, ladies; you will need strength, agility, and most importantly finesse to keep this guy in check. Head him (or her) off at the pass. Have a cocktail or a beer at hand to offer them. Engage them in conversation while surreptitiously motioning your other guests over to the buffet so they will get a crack at the good stuff. If you can keep this predator at bay for fifteen or twenty minutes, then you will have done right by your other guests.
They Who Arrive Too Early
It’s the day of the party. T-minus forty two minutes and counting. Just enough time to do all of the last minute things on your checklist, and still have time to change out of your ratty jeans and t-shirt and put on your fabulous outfit that you got at Banana last week. Time is not on your side, but you’re going to make it, everything will be fine as long as you stay on task and don’t let anything get in your way. DING DONG! What the what? Is it UPS? Last minute floral delivery? Candy gram? Nope, it’s your first, very unwelcome guest, fully thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Please try to be gracious as you invite them in, and do not let them hear you mentally cursing them to burn in eternal hellfire as you lead them into the living room. Excuse yourself for just a moment and put on your fabulous outfit, tell yourself that your hair is not a mess, it’s “artfully tousled” and wade into the fray. And by the way? Forget “never let them see you sweat.” Cheerfully announce that you are so glad that they are here, because you could really use a hand with just a couple of things. That’s right, put them to work. Give these rudesters a paring knife, and an apron, and let them chop a couple of veggies, or give that floor a last minute Swiffering. You will get the help you need, and they will get a valuable lesson in the dangers of showing up early.
The hour is late, you are exhausted. You can’t wait to change into your cozy jammies, pick at a few of the leftovers, and gossip about the party. There is just one problem. You can’t because there are people in your house that do not belong in your house. The guests who don’t leave. They are still going strong, laughing at what Bob said at the office last week, or about that wacky Mrs. VandenHoogen at the soccer game yesterday. Everyone else is long gone, but they just don’t get it. These people are going to put you in the very uncomfortable social position of having to play bouncer in your own home. So gird your loins and make the announcement that it’s time to go. Flip on the lights, the brighter the better, and shout “Time’s up! Everybody out! Move along, people, this means you! You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here!” Or you could, you know, tone that down a bit, I guess.
The Drunkard (see also The Sad Guy/Sad Girl)
It’s not always their fault, you know. In fact, almost everyone has played this role at least once before. Maybe they are on antibiotics, perhaps they haven’t eaten a thing all day, possibly they have never met Mr. Jim Beam before. But here they are, at your lovely party, and they are drunk. Not tipsy, or giddy, or amusingly befuddled; drunk. Messy drunk. Embarrassing themselves, embarrassing you, making everyone feel uncomfortable drunk. Yeesh. At this point, all you can do is damage control. Appoint yourself their court-ordered guardian and steer them into an empty bedroom and give them some water to drink, a solicitous ear to listen to their troubles, and maybe cab fare. Be prepared for them to pass out, in which case you will want them to have easy access to a bathroom or failing that, a bucket (seriously, it’s for your own protection.)
The Casual Parent
First, let it be said, I am a parent. I am a parent of three delightful, sweet, heathenish, noisy children. I love them more than cheese, which is saying a lot. I love taking them places with me and my husband, nearly all of the time. But I would not, will not, can not take them to any parties that are not expressly designated as family-friendly. Nor should you. Nor should anyone. But they won’t be any trouble, you say? You are wrong, yes they will. The only way that you can guarantee that they will be no trouble is if you tranquilize them, and I say that’s just wrong. Kids do not belong at adult-oriented gatherings.They will be bored, they will get into things that they ought not to, they will pester you, or the other guests. Don’t put your kids or your hosts into that position, it’s not fair to them, it’s not fair to the other party-goers. If you can’t arrange for a babysitter, don’t go. That’s it, end of story. Thus endeth the rant.
And now we come to the last, but certainly not least, worst party guest. The As%*&@#. Or, for those of you with more delicate sensibilities, The Jerk. That Guy. He is the one who comes to the party and tells you why your newly remodeled kitchen was a waste of money, or that anyone who hasn’t gotten out of the stock market is an idiot, or “Jeez, you been enjoying the holidays too much, or has the dryer been shrinking your clothes? I’m just kidding, more of you to love, am I right!!?!” (Wait, why did you invite this guy to your party?) Unfortunately we all have them, in our lives. Either it is your obnoxious sister-in-law, or the managing partner at your firm, or the husband of your long-suffering best friend. They are here to stay though, and you have to deal with them. These people generally revel in another’s discomfort, don’t let them. If someone is making you or your guests feel uncomfortable with their behavior, shut it down. I find that a cool stare, paired with a comment along the lines of “Life is short, don’t be a dick jerk.” works very nicely.
When you are hosting a party, you can’t avoid the occasional social misstep or misfit crossing your path. Don’t let them faze you too much. Parties are supposed to be fun, and remember: tonight’s awful party guest will be next month’s punchline when you are telling the story of their bad behavior!