These days it feels like you have to walk on eggshells to keep from setting people off, and while some may be of the adage that this shouldn’t be your main concern–everyone has their own opinion, and you’re entitled to yours–when you’re a guest at someone’s home, the rules are different. What I mean by this is that you have been invited to gather with them and their friends. Perhaps you know some or all of the other guests which will be in attendance, but maybe you don’t, and the way you behave could really put a damper on the experience for others. For this reason, it’s important to practice the manners you were taught as a kid. If you don’t remember what those were, I’m here to help you and be your compass for navigating this delicate season, where the pandemic has heightened stakes and emotions for everyone. The key takeaway is that you are the guest at someone else’s place of residence (likely), and that means you can choose to put others first or yourself. If you think you’re the most important person regardless of the reason for the gathering (i.e. birthday, Christmas dinner, New Year’s party, etc.), then it’s probably best that you walk out and go elsewhere. Asking a host to put your needs first is very rude, and party foul #1.
1. Asking for a host to go out of their way for you.
Party planning takes a long time, and chances are the person who invited you to their home, or wherever this party is located, has already spent a lot of time, energy, and money trying to prepare decorations and buy food and drinks to lay out for you. If there is something that doesn’t suit your preferences, asking them to do something to customize your taste is extremely rude. Even if this party is a wedding, and you’re thinking, “Well, I spent a lot of my time and energy on picking out their wedding gift and making it to this venue, which is super far from where I live,” it is still polite to just remember that you’re here to celebrate something with the host on their terms. It is not their responsibility to please you, and only you. They have others to take care of, and anything someone asks for which is customized and could make them have to go out of their way to leave their party or spend more time and money, is really just selfish. Don’t do this please. It’s basic party etiquette. Don’t like the food, or decorations, or something they’re doing? Then, leave. It’s your option to leave, just as it was your option to come. No one forced you.
2. Shaming others for not wearing a mask.
So I know a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, because they think the world needs to be on full alert that there is a pandemic and “everyone must do their part.” I wholeheartedly agree that people should do what they can to contribute to any preventative measures, but I’m also a firm believer of “This is America. I live here, because no one can force me to do anything that’s not a law.” If I go to a party where the host has deemed it okay to not wear a mask because we have enough space, free-flowing air, and less than X amount of guests (per CDC guidelines) to the point where I feel safe being there without a mask, then it’s my choice to not wear a mask. Now, the host is within his or her right to say, “hey, at this party, we want everyone to wear their mask or leave.” But if they have made wearing a mask the guests’ choice, and you are over here policing everyone who’s not wearing one, you are killing the buzz, and being rude and invasive. While people may understand where you’re coming from, they have a right to make their own decisions, because they are adults, just as you have the right to decide, “I don’t agree with the fact that people here aren’t wearing their mask.” Should you come to that conclusion, then I recommend you do what would make most sense in order for you and others to feel comfortable–leave. Thank the host for inviting you, explain your concerns, and be on your merry way so the rest of the guests are not disturbed by any scenes someone who feels entitled to make decisions on behalf of others may cause. I have personally been to multiple events where some people wore masks and others didn’t.
3. Arguing with your significant other.
This one happens more often than you would think. People who attend parties where there is alcohol run the risk of letting those feelings which have been suppressed for a reason bubble to the surface when some spiked punch or eggnog is in their system. All of a sudden, Jess and Mike are in your kitchen talking about the time he texted that girl over spring break and increasingly getting louder. Or maybe it’s not that serious and people are just growing uncomfortable by the jabs Polly keeps making at her husband Jeff over how he always leaves his clothes on the floor and never fills up the gas tank, acting like she’s his maid, watching awkwardly as her complaints turn from small things to bigger things like the way he looks at the hot neighbor or how much money he gambles at the casino. Please, please. Spare your host, your guests, and yourself the embarrassment. Nobody wants to be a part of stuff that goes in a relationship. Save that stuff for the privacy of your home, or you’ll soon be the couple that no one wants to invite to a function with alcohol for fear of what may come out of your mouth next time at the Christmas party. Read the room, and know when to stop.
4. Complaining about kids at the party.
While some may feel like it’s tradition to complain about kids every time you board a plane or sit at a fancy restaurant and see the wiggling kids at the table across from you, it is extremely unbecoming to whine about little ones being present at a celebratory gathering when the host is within earshot. If there are kids at a party you’ve also been invited to, there is a high possibility your host invited these munchkins and actually wants them there. You complaining about their presence just makes you look like a monster. It is also offensive to the parents who probably had to spend hours getting themselves and their kids ready, knowing the party may not have kid-friendly food or drink options. As a mom, I often have to pack everything under the sun when I go to an event, whether it’s a family thing or not, because I want to make sure that my kids are comfortable and happy. If their needs are met, there’s more of a chance that my husband and I can enjoy ourselves around the adults instead of taking turns rocking the fussy baby or playing games with our five-year-old. It’s been that way for years, and it’s the best we can do to not avoid going out altogether when we’re invited somewhere. So next time you want to blame a kid for ruining your fun, think about the fact that a) that kid is a person just like you and b) their parents are people, too. Don’t be a jerk. You have the freedom to be annoyed, but if you’re going to express it by being vocal, think twice about the vibe that’s going to put off for others who just want to have a good time, and for the host who now wants to make the parents and you feel better somehow.
5. Getting too drunk to function.
Maybe wine is your weakness, or vodka. Drink up, but remember that whether you’re going to an office party, a college party, a friend’s wedding, or a holiday gathering, nobody likes to play babysitter for an adult. If you aren’t going to be able to find your purse, shoes, or phone at the end of the night, and will require assistance getting inside an Uber or your car once everyone starts clearing out, you’ve probably drank too much. Don’t be that person! Stay responsible so everyone at the party can worry about themselves instead of you.
6. Trying to pack up extra food or drinks that weren’t offered to you.
People may have extra dessert or appetizers to hand out at the end of the night and will likely offer it to people when it’s time to go. Be patient, and wait for them to approach you before you grab your purse or start asking for Tupperware so you can feed your aunt or boyfriend back home. It’s not tasteful and makes the person who spent the time to cook all the food (or bought it) feel like you’re taking advantage, especially if all you brought with you was a bag of Doritos to share.