When worrying about serving guests cocktails and getting the hot food out on time, the last thing on a host’s mind is the bathroom. “It might seem funny, but many hosts don’t even consider it — it too needs to be made party ready,” says Jes Gordon. Roland Blandy agrees, “It’s an easily preventable party foul.”
For many event planners, like Lisa Gorjestani and Shawn Rabideau, this is high on the no-no list. Those who drink too much are that much more likely to cry or be argumentative, and as a host, that’s the last thing you want to have happen to a party. Same for guests. Do you really want to be so drunk that you’re a burden to the host as they try to figure out how to get you home safely?
Forgetting to RSVP is a party foul of the highest order. “Whether it is a small dinner party, or large wedding, not sending an RSVP back is stressful for the host and might leave you without a chair,” says Christina Clayton. Carlyn Berghoff agrees. “The RSVP is a vital step in planning, and helps dictate staffing levels and the amount of food needed, for starters.” Kim Oliff adds, “By ignoring their invitation or replying late you are sending a message of disrespect and putting the host in the awkward position of having to contact you for your answer.”
Whether you’re at a dinner party or at a wedding, if you’re a guest, be a guest says Jesi Haack. “Don’t try to upstage the hosts or guests of honor.” After all, when it’s your turn to celebrate, do you want someone to come rain on your parade? Didn’t think so.
There is a reason it’s called a cocktail hour — it should be an hour long. It’s one of Polly Onet’s pet peeves, and as a host, it’s just asking for trouble, especially when entertaining guests around mealtime. Todd Fiscus advices keeping the cocktail portion for the party under an hour if more than 100 people, and shorten it to 30 minutes as your guest list gets smaller.
When entertaining, it’s a surefire to end a party (short of shutting off the power), and most event planners agree. Steve Wenger has seen many a host consider cutting back on portions with the thought that only have the guests will eat the dish. Bad idea. “Never let anyone go home hungry,” agrees Dan George. Worst-case scenario, you’ll have too much food and a fully-stocked bar for yourself. Not bad. And if you can’t eat everything, do as Mitchell Crosby does and send guests home with something for later.
According to entertaining expert Annette Joseph, as the host of an event, you’re also the entertainment. That means you kind of have to be at the party. Brian Kappra agrees. “Don’t go running off to restock the bar or hiding in the kitchen to tend to things there, only to leave guests to fend for themselves.”
Just because you’re hosting a party doesn’t mean it’s is all about you — a good host considers their guests are comfortable first. Sebrell Smith agrees, “You need to remember that not everyone shares your same tastes. To make the right selections when planning, Carl Hedin advises that “one should take into consideration the variety of guests attending and make decisions based on their sensibilities.”
For starters, unless your invitation is addressed to Mary McConnell and Guest, it’s likely you’re not allowed to bring a guest, but it doesn’t hurt to check with your host. And never assume anything advises Veronica Alexandra — because you know what they say, it’s only going to make an ass out of you and me…
While this doesn’t happen often anymore, it still does. If you’re going to make guests bust out the bills for a beverage, it’s best not to have a party at all advises Kristin Banta. If you’re still on a tight budget, there are ways to make it work. Make the party BYOB, or ask guests to bring a potluck appetizer and offer a wine bar stocked with inexpensive bottles free of charge.
This goes for both hosts and guests. If you don’t like the food, seating, or selection of alcohol, complaining is disrespectful to the host says Tara Wilson. “Being invited to a party is a privilege and the host hand-selected them to attend.” And for hosts, Karen Doan warns that complaining about other guests or something gone awry is a great way to sabotage your party. “Have an elegant event by being an elegant host.”
Unless the host has specifically indicated guests can take their arrangement, never, ever assume it’s OK to pick up your flowers at the end of a wedding or gala event says Jennifer Grove. It’s tacky, rude, and you never know if the glass containers have been rented from the florist, or if the bouquets need to be saved for something else.
As a host, your job is to not only make sure your guests are comfortable, but you also need to do your homework before you send out invitations advises Crosby. “If you have friends who do not drink, don't invite them to a wine dinner. Don't serve pork or shellfish if you have Jewish friends coming, and if you have older guests, lay off the curry and spicy dishes. And always have a vegetarian alternative in the back of your head ready... just in case!” And if you’re worried you don’t know enough about your guests, then call someone who does, even if it’s a co-worker or secretary.
Growing up in a home that is notoriously difficult to find, and not trackable on GPS, I know this all too well. "It's easy to provide a simple set of directions and a phone number, in case guests get lost," says Crosby. Not only does it show your guests you care about them, but it also ensures that there are no stragglers and you can get dinner on the table on time.