5 Ways You’re Secretly Annoying The Host Of The Dinner Party

You were thrilled to get the invitation, but now your host is down to their last nerve. What did you do, anyway?
She's secretly thinking about that unchilled white wine you brought to the party.
Portra Images via Getty Images
She's secretly thinking about that unchilled white wine you brought to the party.

It’s never easy to host a party. After the planning, cleaning and food prep, you still need to make yourself presentable and be at the front door at the right time, looking friendly and welcoming.

Being a guest, on the other hand, seems like a pretty sweet gig. You just need to show up at the right time, bring along anything you were asked to supply, and do your best to be interesting company until the party’s over.

Then why is it that things often go so wrong? We talked to people who frequently host parties and asked them what their guests do that secretly annoy them — often without even realizing what they’re doing.

Follow these guidelines and you might start to notice that you’re getting invited to a lot more parties.

1) You showed up late

Life happens, and delays can crop up, but you really need to do your best to curb the diva tendencies and show up as close as possible to the event’s start time. Especially if a sit-down dinner is involved, your butt will be most welcome in its assigned seat at the proper time. And, if you were tasked with bringing something that’s required for the meal, it’s doubly important to be prompt.

Candie Anderson is a lifestyle and entertaining blogger who frequently hosts parties. “A few years ago a guest arrived for a holiday celebration two hours late, and without the main dish they were supposed to bring,” she recalled. Perhaps to cover for their embarrassment or perhaps just because of bad manners, no apology was forthcoming.

Anderson now has a strategy for coping: “If you know that one of your guests perpetually runs late, you can invite them earlier than everyone else so they’re more likely to arrive on time. And don’t ask them to bring anything of great importance.”

2) Your ‘gift’ required work

Perhaps you’ve brought a wet, dripping bouquet that needs a vase. Or you’re bringing an appetizer that requires “access to the sink, a really sharp chef’s knife, an ovenproof bowl and — oh, you’ll need to start preheating the oven, too.”

Your job as a guest is to make everything easier for those throwing the party, not more of a headache. Put the flowers in a ready-to-be-gifted vase, even if it’s just a Mason jar. And remember that your host’s kitchen is not the place for you to flex your culinary muscles, so bring a ready-to-go dish or just buy a bag of ice, which is always appreciated.

Don't make the host scramble to find a vase for your flowers.
IzaLysonArts / 500px via Getty Images
Don't make the host scramble to find a vase for your flowers.

3) You ruined the bathroom

Kate Arends Peters, owner of the lifestyle blog Wit & Delight, still remembers the time a guest had what she describes as “an incident” in her bathroom. “They left without telling me about it, and we had to clean it up,” she said.

What to do if you’re the hapless guest next time? Well, there’s always cleaning it up by yourself. Peters suggested that if you feel too embarrassed for words, you can try texting the host with a heads up.

You can prevent a similar incident in your own house. “It’s important to provide access to things guests might be embarrassed to ask for,” Peters suggested. “That’s especially important with bathrooms, so stock up on candles, spray and toilet paper, and keep them handy. That avoids embarrassment for everyone.”

4) You caused a major spill

For Robin Selden, managing partner of Marcia Selden Catering and Events, the trouble started in a wine glass — a very full red wine glass, to be specific.

“At a family party, my aunt flung her hand up, sending her red wine spinning like spin art on our brand-new white couch,” Selden recalled. “As you’d imagine, it was pretty devastating, since it couldn’t be cleaned and needed to be completely reupholstered. Thankfully, she did the right thing and paid for the new upholstery, so we still laugh about it now.”

In hindsight, she suggested that hosts with pale furnishings or carpets might limit drink options to those from a “blond bar,” with nothing that can stain.

5) You had a little too much fun

This one could also be filed under, “alcohol, overconsumption of.”

Seri Kertzner, chief party planner at Little Miss Party Planner, may not have seen it all, but she’s come pretty close. “We’ve had guests dance on top of rental tables in high heels,” she said. “That’s frightening because rental tables are great for dining at, but can be dangerous if stood — or danced — on.”

If things get out of hand at your next bash, Kertzner suggested setting an end time. “Instead of saying the party is at 7 p.m., for example, say it’s from 7 to 11 p.m.”

Still, don’t be afraid to get things under control. “We’ve had to take away car keys, turn off microphones and even had to shut down the bar,” she said.

Parting words from party experts

Parties happen every day, and usually things go just fine. But if you’ve recognized your own behavior in any of these hosting stories, this might be a good time to clean up your act.

And if you’re the beleaguered host, here’s some heart-to-heart professional advice on setting limits and still having fun, first from Peters: “Hostesses who make people feel comfortable and relaxed tend to set a good vibe for the party. If you’re uncomfortable with people doing certain things, tell them. It’s your house, your rules and if people don’t respect that, don’t invite them back. There’s no sense in having people that don’t respect your space around you.”

Give yourself a break, whatever you do, and don’t let one boorish guest ruin your good time. “Event planning is stressful,” Anderson said. “You can’t force guests to do anything, so it’s important to remember that this is a brief moment, and it will all be over soon. Enjoy yourself and have a good time.”

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