Party Etiquette [NOT 8/10/22]

Someone forgot he had NOT duty today…

Do you arrive early or late to parties?

Are you a nosher or havr restraint with the finger food?

Life of the party or quiet person in the corner…



  1. I mean, let’s settle on terms here. I hate to be late; I’m always 15 minutes early. But that’s for work or professional obligations or weddings. For parties being on time is early. If the party starts at 7 then I assume I’m supposed to arrive at 7:30 so I get there at 7:25. Unless it’s family and then I arrive at 5, scarf down some dinner and I’m drunk by 6:30.

    This is Bryan’s Theory of Party Relativity. Time is fluid when affected by the gravitational pull of a party.

  2. The one I have trouble with is good byes with multiple hosts and not being able to find one. Do I trust Host 1 to convey my thanks to Host 2 when I say good bye?

    I personally don’t keep track of comings and goings when I host, but some people care….

  3. Here are the rules:

    1. If a meal is involved (brunch, lunch, dinner) show up when told. 7 PM does not mean 8:30.

    2. If the host is a close friend show up on the early side or even offer to come early and help, and to lend moral support.

    3. If you barely know the host and/or are a reluctant guest, show up an hour late, minimum. That way you aren’t stuck having an awkward one-on-one with either the host or a very small number of others who might be there.

    4. If you come with a spouse/partner, split up, the better to gather intel that can be shared later. Keep them in sight though, and have a secret signal indicating SOS from the conversation partner you find unpleasant. Accomplish rescue by going over to them and saying, “Hello” to the captor and then, to your partner, “You look like you’re running a little low. Let’s go to the bar because I want to tell you something.” This is borderline rude but who cares.

    5. If it’s your own large party make sure you talk to everyone, as if it were your wedding. Try to think up some connection to someone else so you can fob them off and then move on to the next guest. I happen to know a lot of part-time actors and amateur singers and musicians, that’s always good, and I’ve sometimes had good luck if I know person A lives close to person B so I shuttle them over with a cheery, “This is X, your neighbor! He/she lives really close to you, on Y Street!” I tend to stay away from occupations, like, “Oh, let me introduce you to Z, who’s also an attorney” (we know tons of those) because that’s dull and if they want to talk about work in their off-hours that’s up to them.

    6. If it’s your own large party matchmake like the yenta you were meant to be. I’m good at set-ups but notoriously a bringer of bad luck when the new friends decide to give it a go. On one occasion someone had to take out a restraining order (sorry, Jimmy, I didn’t know the guy very well myself, he was someone else’s friend, and he was really hot wasn’t he?)

    • For 5 & 6 there are definitely a lot of host obligations which extend far beyond hanging up coats and handing out appetizers. Which is why it’s almost always better to just have a simple spread of food and drinks that don’t need tending, so that it’s much easier to free up time for stirring up the guests instead. Leaving them to their own devices is usually a bad idea — hosts ought to catalysts.

  4. Depends on the type of party. I arrive on time for dinner parties. For more casual gatherings I try to show up 20 to 30 minutes after the start. Food at parties can be a challenge for people with eating disorders. In the past I ate very little which meant the booze hit me extra hard. I’m getting more comfortable eating in front of people but I’m still self conscious.

  5. Since there are exactly *two* settings to my time-blindness, it’s either early, or late, never actually “on time,” and tbh, there’s every possibility that, even if i *DID* arrive early (or woke UP early, to get somewhere!🙃), I’ll still somehow manage to be late.😬😖😱

    Ever since a couple months into the pandemic, back around the time of the rioting here in Mpls (so, May/June, 2020), my time-blindness has been reallllly BAD, and although it’s *better* on my current dosage of ADHD meds, it’s definitely not fixed!


    Luckily? on the rare occasions I’m invited to parties, most of the folks inviting don’t mind me coming well ahead of time, to help with setup, if they want me *there* when the party is starting😉💖

    As a former theater geek, a person who likes to cook & bake, *and* who came from a very “DIY” family & community, I’m usually pretty welcome to help with events–because I can be given instructions, then depended on to get it *done* to at least the desired specs, if I don’t *also* then ask to do some additional *little* things,** which usually earn my hosts multiple compliments over the course of the event.

    **an example of this was a few years back, when I was volunteering for a local charity.

    They were holding their big *Gala Event* & Silent Auction, and I’d offered to show up early to help with set-up (so I wouldn’t be late!)…

    The contractor who’d been hired to set up the “VIP Lounge” was a no-show that day, so one of the other contractors (iirc the company hired for lighting?) stepped up to fill the gap, but asked for “a couple of creative folks to help me out, and get everything set up?”

    Since I was “free extra help” that day, I ended up helping her & her crew with it most of the day…

    Once we had the room set up with the stuff she’d brought, it looked “nice,” but definitely *wasn’t* up to the standards of  “VIP Nice” in a way that local rich folks & celebrities would’ve *expected*…

    So, I started to wander around the event space, looking for “bits & baubles” i could scrounge, to make it *feel* fancy (even if it wasn’t *actual* “fancy”!)…

    I discovered a bunch of broken plastic bead-necklaces & other cast-off, broken, sparkly things–which had originally been intended for the “Photo Booth” section of the event before they broke during set up, and asked if I could steal & repurpose ’em.

    Since they were useless to the original sector they were bought for, the folks in charge said, “Go ahead!” so I grabbed some scissors started cutting them up into “jewels” & *confetti*  pieces, then started sprinkling the cut-up junk onto the various flat surfaces around the room, adding any spare votive holders, sparkly-objects, and “strategically” moving furniture around, to create “conversation areas,” cover any floor-based electrical outlets, and better fill the gaping holes in the room’s layout😉

    We ended up getting quite a few compliments that night, on the “freshness of the design,” compared to all the other local events that season, and the “comfortability”/”coziness” of the VIP Lounge–even though the stuff that got *most* of those compliments was literally just repurposed *trash* that hadn’t yet had a chance to get thrown out!!! Some of the VIP’s even told the execs of the charity they took “…some of that *beautiful* confetti you guys had in the lounge!”😆😂🤣💫💖

    • I kind of assume the regular VIPs on the charity benefit circuit like deans, local TV news personalities, and community outreach VPs for utility companies are so tired of bog standard events. They probably appreciate anything which is out of the ordinary.

  6. I tend to be too shy to eat in front of a lot of people (and yes, I know, 98% of them are paying no attention to what I’m doing), so unless it’s a family party, I don’t nibble much. For the same reason, I like to be a little early because then I can get comfortable in the space before the crowd descends. Also, I like to be able to be helpful for those last few insane minutes of getting ready before everyone shows up.

    I haven’t had a party in years… we used to have big parties for the kids birthdays, with everyone we knew and a big buffet dinner. But that slowly died out as people got married, moved away, etc. These days, I’m not sure I could round up more than 10 people for a party that AREN’T family!

  7. I always try to arrive on time, or if I know the host well and have asked them in advance if they want help (and they say yes), early.

    My biggest etiquette thing that people are too lax with is RSVPing and actually meaning it. If you don’t want to go to a party, don’t tell the host you’re going to be there. And if you decide to not go, for the love of fuck don’t back out the day of if at all possible.


    One year I had a New Year’s Eve Party where I’d invited 11 friends over and within the time range of the hour before it was to start and an hour into the “party,” every fucking one of them cancelled on me. I had all the food already made, most of it plated and out already. I had a lot of booze already chilled. Me and the dog ate well and I pity-party drank a lot of champagne by myself that night.


    • Co-sign that. RSVPs are a sacred obligation which are not to be cast aside without catastrophic (and I mean death or major weather even) rationales. I had to renege last week on a wedding because of the hurricane and I still feel like scum. I have another wedding next week that I’d rather die than go to but I’ll be there with a stupid grin plastered on my face. It’s a matter of honor.

    • Ooouf that sucks. I’m sorry that all your friends bailed at the last minute. I used to host at least two big parties a year. Some people don’t appreciate how much labor goes into planning and executing them.

    • Had that sort of happen to me the 2nd New Years party I threw.

      I had 5… FIVE people show up out of 20.

      Oh well, at least we five ate and drank well.  I had broken out the beef short ribs and Mundoo (Korean stuffed dumplings aka Wontons but I enjoy them much more) plus top shelf booze.

      It was the last one.  After that it was just Pizza and BYOB.

      • Yeah I had a similar response even though I hadn’t done nearly the work you did for food prep.

        I’ve hosted since then but it’s definitely more like let’s just do cheese trays that I assemble only after people start showing up, etc etc.

  8. I’m watching this Cardinals game because if they lose tonight then the season is over and it’s the last game for Pujols and Molina.

    The way we’re playing, I expect this to be a loss and Philly is getting tomorrow off.

  9. Backgrounder… someone had a going away party tonight for a couple of folks who worked over 10 years at the workplace- I am friends with both of them.  One guy transferred to another site to be closer to home (commuting hell), the other fellow is leaving Ontario for cheaper lands.

    The plan was to write a NOT before the party and go.  Little problem, I ended up passed out for about an hour and realized I had to go as I was already late.  Turns out I was the 3rd person (of 8 total – 15 RSVPed.)

    Today’s NOT was brought to you the letter P, I (as in improvise) and F as in fight for your right…

  10. Funny, I’m going to a party tomorrow afternoon.  It’s the Annual Paw Paw Festival at a local winery but I don’t drink.  My wife will have a great time and I’ll be the one in the kitchen petting the dog.

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