Forward by derryX: This is a reader-submitted post; this post was not written by derryX or XProtege.
We’ve all been to an “organized” casual party, right? For a birthday, or a reunion – any large gathering, really. Sometimes, the hosts cater the event themselves and present the food buffet-style, and guests can serve themselves. It’s easy, informal, and is the formula for fun in a laid back setting.
I recently attended a party that seemed would be this way. The venue was a nice restaurant that closed its main dining area for the private event. The bar was available for drinks, and our hosts put out their own food – homemade meatballs, sauce and dips, some pizza, cold-cut platters, and other snacks.
It should be easy. It’s pretty sophomoric – knowing how to behave when you’re a guest at this type of party. Your host will be dressed up; do you have to dress to the nines? No – but maybe you could skip the torn jeans, the low cut top, or the discount-store special that shows off every single tattoo. Of course you know you should RSVP, so that your hosts can plan accordingly. Once you’ve responded that you’ll be there, all you need to do is show up and show up on time (at least within reason). Ten, even twenty, minutes is fashionably late; an hour is not.
How about the hosts? That should be pretty easy. Get the food out – on time. Make it accessible – uncover platters, open condiments, put out serving spoons, etc. Get the plates and utensils out and make them easy to reach. Make the buffet line easy to follow, and keep it flowing, so guests get their food quickly. Basically make your guests comfortable. Duh.
The party I attended? You can probably guess: it was all wrong. Of the guests who actually bothered to respond, several were late (up to an hour), which might have actually mattered more if the hosts had both been there when the party started. The one who was there wasn’t greeting anybody. The food didn’t go out until an hour into the party. When we started the buffet line, the guests at the front of the line were left to open packages of plastic cutlery, uncover platters of cold-cuts and search for a place to discard plastic wrap from the unopened jar of mayo. All in the private setting of an upscale, local restaurant.
I wasn’t sure what was more frustrating to me – the guests’ ridiculous behavior, or the hosts behaving like their guests didn’t deserve any better.
Here’s the thing, as I mentioned earlier: a party is, to a certain degree, a business exchange, a social contract. The guests bring a gift, themselves or sometimes even pay for a ticket, and the host provides the food, and the atmosphere. You hold up your end; they’ll hold up theirs. It’s aggravating when both sides don’t view it this way.