Saturday, 24 December 2011

Don't Be That Guest! A Hostesses' Guide To Being A Great Guest!

Oh - I was so meant to do this blog weeks ago, after a conversation with C about hosting and guesting, but I forgot.  It's holiday time, and honestly -- these are things you need to know!

You may think you don't do these things, but probably you do.   I even do some of them when I'm the guest and not the host.  I don't mean to, but there it is.
Add caption we go...there's an invisible "please" before each of these -- we are, after all, here to serve you.

#1 - DON'T call/text/email/otherwise HARASS (yes - that's what it is!) the host/hostess an hour before the party call time.  "I'm on my way!"  "oooh - left directions at home - can you text me?"  "I'm not feeling well - so sorry can't make it."  We.  Don't.  Care.  We have 20 (10, 30, whatever) people who are going to come, who did bring their directions, who are descending within an hour and we probably have an hour and a half's worth of stuff left to do and  are probably not showered or dressed.  Stopping to talk, text, or whatever with you, right before the party uses up valuable time.  Most likely, our hands are full of whatever we're making and we can't even grab the phone.  Please - just be on your own recognizance!  If you can't make it, send an apologetic email or text or pick up the phone TOMORROW!  We'll be much happier to talk to you then.  If you've got mad pre-party issues - try calling a few hours ahead.  Please.  (You think you don't do this?  You do. I myself did it to someone yesterday.)

#2 - DON'T be the early guest!  If the party is at 7 and you show up at 6:30 - you have just cost the host/hostess half an hour of prep time!  Talk about panic-making!  Now she/he has to talk to you, get you a beverage, make you feel comfortable, instead of, oh, say, getting dressed for the party?  You can be the early guest if you are the bestie of the host/hostess, if you are co-hosting or willing to do so or if you are there to help.  If you are going to be one of those things, it's nice to say that you are coming early, or need to come early, or ask if it's ok.

#3 - DON'T need to use the oven and other kitchen space and items without clearing it beforehand!  If you need to use the oven - a crucial item there is usually only one of and only able to be at one temperature at a time - let the host/hostess know in advance!  He/she is busy roasting vegetables and you've brought an unbaked quiche!  Oven planning can happen, but not if the host/hostess does not know.  Likewise if you are not bringing the salad, but the ingredients to the salad, and - oh by the way - do you have a salad bowl,  or if you are planning to concoct your special drink on the spot.  It's so difficult trying to accommodate a guest cook in the kitchen when you are already using every possible item and spot.  (If you do need to cook/assemble at the party venue, try to bring the items you need with you - mixer, bowls, etc.)

#4 - DON'T hover in the kitchen (especially early in the party).  This is a bit of a grey area.  If you are the first one there and the host/hostess is in the kitchen, well, where else should you be?  If you are also cooking/assembling, you need to be there.  Don't get underfoot, and don't talk so much that the host/hostess gets distracted from their task.  Or talk so much that they can tune you out!  JK.  Feel free to offer help, but don't expect them to have any idea how to make you helpful.  If there are lots of people in the kitchen, and the host/hostess can just get on with what they need to do (and are not super-crowded in), then it's all okay.  I mean, if everyone is doing it...

#5 - DON'T bring just a bottle of your favorite soda to a pot luck.  Or whatever an alternative equivalent might be.  This happened at a party where many people came together to create an event for someone, and it looked and felt as though the person bringing it just didn't care at all.  If it's a pot luck, chances are the host/hostess will provide basics - or assign them out - and is expecting people to bring something a little more substantial.  Some people really want their drink at a party and need to own that and bring it.  That's great - but the idea of a party where everyone contributes is diversity and sharing.  Now, if your wallet feels empty and this is all you feel you can bring, you know, that is what it is.  You can tell the host/hostess in advance, you can ask if there's something they really need - ice , lemons, limes (all so cheap - around a dollar - less than the soda) - that saves them remembering or a trip to the market.  If you just don't cook and have no food sense, the previous list is also a great one.  Not trying to sound judgmental about what people want to bring, but it felt like an opt-out, or a what's the absolute least I can do choice.

#6 - DON'T monopolize your host/hostess!  They know you like them and want to talk to them, or you probably wouldn't have come (unless you need an introduction to that producer, are stalking one of their friends, or need a free meal.)  Here's how it works - you walk in, they take your coat (if you have one) or tell you where to put it and ask you if you want something to drink.  They chat with you for 35 seconds and then they go get your drink (or try to).  Meantime, someone else has arrived and the host/hostess needs to do this whole thing again.  So, if you want to download your whole day, week, year on them, it means 1)  you're standing in the doorway holding your coat and anything you brought to the party (hostess gift, regular gift, bottle of wine food) 2)  you're not getting your drink anytime soon 3) a traffic jam is soon forming 4) you are stressing out your host/hostess.  A good host/hostess will get each guest situated and introduce (or re-introduce) them early to at least one other guest - you should have a starter conversation to work from.  You can go back to your host/hostess later in the party, but again, keep it short.  A good host/hostess is all about making everyone happy - not themselves, and not just you.  There are drinks to be refilled, dirty things to clear.  Of course, if they have a staff, well, that is different - they have a lot more freedom to socialize.  But it's still their job to make everyone feel welcome and comfortable.

#7 - DON'T be the last guest at the party!  Most events have a 4-5 hour life span (maybe not open houses - those can be much longer, or summer bbq/pool parties).  If the event was called for 8pm and it's 2am and you are still there, and everyone else has gone home...GO HOME!  The host/hostess is probably exhausted from shopping, cooking, hosting, chatting.  There is probably tons of clean up to do.  They are probably thinking about their bed while you ask for another scotch.  So...if you're not trying to get with the host or hostess, GO HOME.  If you are trying to get with the host or hostess, well, you really do need to make sure that they are reciprocating.  If you are the last one there and the host/hostess starts cleaning up, either TAKE THE HINT AND GO HOME, or at least, help!  The last guest who won't go, who watches me clean up is always also on my last nerve.  No matter how much I may love you other times, I want you to leave now.  Remember, always leave them wanting more.

That's the list, thanks to me and C, if I didn't forget anything.  While I don't usually use words like "don't" around here, well, it's meant to be helpful.

We also have a list of host/hostess tips.  I'll do that one...soon...if you remind me.

If you've got any tips to add, please put them in the comments!


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