Have you ever gone to a cocktail party at someone’s home and you weren’t sure what you should or shouldn’t do as a guest? Should I bring something? Offer help? Should I sit on my fat ass while the host works their ass off serving me? Uh oh, all fired up. Maybe I should wait to post this? Nah. Actually, I’m posting this because it’s not that people are lazy — I think that they just don’t know or they don’t pay attention when they’re having a great time at a party. This may help…
What should I bring to a party? The “obligatory hostess gift” is usually about it for adult parties. If you’re looking for something really easy and appropriate to bring to almost any party—a bottle of wine or liquor is great. You might bring something that will be a treat for the host after the party is over, but don’t expect your gift to be opened or used during the party. That’s not your choice when you bring a gift. Candy is fine thing to bring too. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive to show appreciation for being invited. Remember, never bring flowers unless they’re in a vase — it’s imperative that you bring something that the host doesn’t have to attend to — before or during the party. Now, as a guest: There’s nothing worse to be invited to a party, any party, and there’s a list of things you have to bring! Classless, especially if the host makes a decent living. Did I say “classless” already? If I want to cook food and buy all my own booze, I’ll just stay home and have my own party! If a decent wage-earner requires me to bring all this for admittance, I probably wouldn’t want to spend my life energy with them anyway… OK, I’m off track. Do not bring a gift if the party is at a venue where the host has to lug your gift somewhere else or dealing with your gift will be an issue for them. (Example: Don’t bring wedding gifts to the reception! Send it to the bride’s house before or after the wedding!)
Can I bring my grandma’s corn bread? Maybe. For example, don’t bring a 5 layer bean dip—no matter how much you like it—unless you and the host have agreed on it. Ask. And as as host, don’t be such a snob about other people’s food — Claudia’s 5 layer dip was awesome! If you are bringing food—bring it in a nice, disposable container — make it easy on you and the host. Neither of you will have to clean the dish and you can leave it there and not think about it again. It’s great when friends bring delicious things, but it’s a hassle to get their containers back to them.
Should I offer to help? Always. And that includes you — married men! Most (I didn’t say all!) guys who come with their wives/girlfriends tend to sit on their asses. Women, what have you done to these guys? (Oh, I’m gonna hear about writing that one!) Your host might be the most capable (and handsome) party-giver in the world, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t appreciate a little help. Offer. They might tell you “no” but that doesn’t mean that you still don’t do anything. Do something that won’t intrude on the host and will still help them – like picking up your empty cup! Better yet, if you see glasses that rude guests have abandoned, take them to the kitchen sink or put them on the counter close to the sink. Empty them before you leave them. If they’re disposable — you’ll figure it out. If there are used and abandoned things just sitting around making the place look like a trash heap, just pick them up and throw them away. Now, how hard was that? Yes, you can do that and the host will always appreciate it. You don’t have to make a spectacle about it, just do it nonchalantly, with some class and purpose. Those actions don’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
How much help should I offer? I’m not a janitor! Rarely will your charm and good looks be enough. I really appreciate a guest who will notice that the trash can is full in the middle of a full-blown party and offer to take it out for me. What a simple, easy thing to do and it keeps the host at the party. That’s a gesture that will be remembered. Also, if you throw the trash out — put the new bag into the container. Do the whole job, not half of it. Just put yourself in the host’s position and think about what the place is going to look like after everyone leaves. You’re right, you’re not a janitor, but you can still pick things up.
If you’re a considerate guest, you’ll increase your chances dramatically that you’ll be invited back. Don’t expect anyone to be your servant at a party — unless of course, they’ve been hired to serve you! (LOVE those parties!) In that case, just ask the host once if there’s anything you can do and to let them know that you are there if they do need something.
You are not a servant or expected to be one at a party. Clean up after yourself (if you can). Play well with others. Offer to help. Pay attention to what needs to be done and that you can do unobtrusively to help. Remember, after all, it is the host who is having the party and that doesn’t mean the guests become employees when the walk in the door. It’s balance…you’ll find it.
Note to all my friends: You helpers know who you are and I really appreciate it. THANK YOU!