Friday, May 13, 2011

Dos and Don'ts of Party Hosting

You probably remember how parties worked when we were younger: you got an invitation in the mail telling you who, what, where, when, and asking for an RSVP.  So you responded and arrived at the party, which was just as it was described on the invitation. Now that we’re older and we don’t send out invitations for non-formal parties and events, I think we may have lost some of the basic party-hosting etiquette that those invitations required us to follow.  Here is a list of Do’s and Don’ts that I think we all should follow when hosting a party or event.

Do:
Let your guests know the date, time, location, and type of party/event you’re having, and any other information that might be helpful.  Think about what you would write on an invitation, and give your guests the same info.
 - Pick a specific date and time, rather than saying “sometime next week.”  There are a few conditions under which you might not be able to pick a date and time very far in advance:
 1. You’re getting together with just a few friends and want to wait and see which day is best for everyone.  This is okay because with such a small group, your guests know that they will be included; you’re catering your plans to them.  In a larger group, however, you may not be able to accommodate everyone, and changing the party date so that someone can come will probably mean that someone else will no longer be able to come and will feel more left out than if they couldn’t go on the original date.  If you have close friends who you want to accommodate within a larger group of guests, take care of that before you announce the party date to everyone.
2. The event is weather-permitting.  In this case, you should pick a date as soon as you know the weather forecast.
3. You truly cannot commit to a date and time very far in advance (ex: because of your changing work schedule).  Again, let your guests know the exact date and time as soon as you can, and in the meantime, give them a rough idea.  You could say, “I’d like to start the party by 6, but I’m not sure I’ll be out of work by then.  But it will definitely start by 9 at the latest.
Be accommodating in the way that you invite guests to your party.  If you create a Facebook event, for example, call any friends who don’t have Facebook.  Also call any friends who haven’t responded, as they may not have seen the message.
- Answer any questions about the party. If you don’t have an answer yet, tell your friend that you’ll get back to them, so that they know you got their message.
- Stick to your plans as best as possible.  Your guests are assuming a certain party plan and may not be okay with doing something else.
Let your guests know what level of food you’ll be serving, and follow through with your plans.
Let your guests know what will happen if there is a problem.  Ex: If it might rain the day of your cookout, will you postpone it or have the party indoors? 
-  Only cancel or postpone the party if there is a real reason for it (ex: you’re not feeling well)
If anything does change at the last minute, let your guests know as soon as you do.  Call all of your guests to tell them, especially if they might be on their way already.  It’s fine to update the Facebook event or send an email, but you can’t be sure everyone will see the message in time. 
- Apologize for the inconvenience if the party needs to be postponed, and understand if not everyone can make the new date.
Respect anyone’s decision not to attend your party if they’re not interested in the activity you’ll be doing.
- Make your guests feel welcome and let them know how glad you are that they came.
Don’t:
Leave your guests wondering about important details until the last minute.  
Refuse to pick a date and time in advance because you want to wait and see what other fun offers you get.  
Assume that everyone checks Facebook, email, etc. as frequently as you do.
Ignore questions about the party.
- Assume your friends won't mind if you cancel the original plan as long as you invite them to do something different.
- Change your plans about serving a meal. 
Leave your guests wondering what’s going on if there’s a problem (ex: a blizzard).  
- Cancel or postpone the party because you get an offer to do something better.
Forget to inform your guests about last minute changes of plans.
Change the party date as if it's no big deal and everyone can still come. 
- Criticize your guests for not being interested in the type of event you're having. 
- Indicate that your friends should feel lucky to have you to show them a good time.

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