I’m something of an expert at this. Not only am I an irredeemable partier, I’m a recovering diplomat’s wife, and throw at least a dozen gatherings per year in my 481-square foot studio. Cramming up to 30 people in my place and having it still be fun takes a LOT of creativity and know-how.
Because I’m sure all of you want to be my friend, chill on my sofa, and avail yourselves of the Shangria, let me share with you my Seven People I’ll Meet at the Cocktail Party of the Damned*. These are the guests that send even the most charming, laid-back hostess into shrieking fits. A party of all of these folks combined would get me to hang up my hostess hat forever:
1. The Unannounced Entourage. Some folks can’t go anywhere without their half-dozen closest friends. Cool. The more the merrier. But if you’re going to double my party population on zero notice, bring some extra beers. Also, don’t spend the whole evening sequestered on the balcony with the little clique you walked in with - that's just snobby.
2. The Guest List Cop. These people drive you nuts before the party’s even started. They go over your guest list with a baleful eye and complain that they don’t exactly approve of your choices. Don’t like everyone who will be there? Think you’re incapable of a cordial hello and a hasty retreat to another corner of the room? Spend your Saturday night somewhere else. This should be quite basic, here: you don’t have the right to tell me who I can and can’t invite to my own home. I mean, really.
3. The TwitterBits. These folks twaddle their thumbs across their keyboards the whole time they’re over. It’s one thing to check in with your ride, place a bet with your bookie, or ask your secretary to line up your booty call. But why spend the whole evening glued to a machine? Why not just stay home and make sweet, sweet love to your laptop?
4. The High-Maintenance Helpmate. I love when people offer to bring an appetizer or a dessert. Especially desserts, as I hate to bake. But please don’t bring something that requires tons of fridge space (I have, like, none to spare), destroy the kitchen (it’s already gonna be revolting), or involve lots of prep (in my tiny kitchen). Just bring a plate of cookies instead.
5. The Eeyore Extravaganza. We all have bad days. However, if you have 1,000 bad days in a row, and spend the entire party bitching mightily to anyone who will listen, don’t expect a return invite. My home is my refuge, and, hell, it’s a refuge for anyone who wants to come over, relax and have a good time. Don’t take that away from us.
6. The High-Maintenance Momma. Bring your baby. I will happily hold it for you, and swear I won’t use its first tooth to crack open my bottle of Bud Light. Just don’t bring the super-extra-double-large SUV stroller, the fourteen bags of equipment, and the 27 buckets of food. A carseat, diaper bag and a few toys and snacks will suffice for a short visit.
7. The Robin Leech. This person sees parties as a venue for personal gain. They corner guests regarding the latest marketing strategy, or, even better, they’re disappointed when things aren’t as posh as they’d prefer. I serve Yeungling in a can because that’s what I can afford in mass quantities – the average party costs me around $200, and that's if I stick to the generic Cheetos. If you’re fussy about brands, BYOB.
Since I hate to end on a negative note, here are my Seven Guests Who Can Always Come Back:
1. The Iceman. Most often, Foggy, who knows I can’t fit more than two bags of ice in my freezer. So he brings extras for the booze bucket.
2. The Chauffeur. My friend Rowena often gives me a lift to the store the day of the party. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen two pocket-sized women haul 10 bags of food and three cases of beer down a hallway in a series of high-energy sprints.
3. The Early Bird. Nothing makes me happier than when a friend offers to show up a half-hour early and help me set up. Or, hell, just keeps me company while I knock out a few last-minute kitchen tasks.
4. The Slumber Party Guests. If you can’t get home, stay over! Many of my parties devolve into four or five people sprawled across sofas and air mattresses, asking one another about the meaning of life. Or, just as often, the sexual proclivities of Scooby-Doo. I'd rather you crash than drive home drunk, take over an hour to find a cab, or stumble onto the third rail on the Metro. Don't worry - I'll still respect you in the morning.
5. The Magi. That is, anyone who brings me a gift. One of the sweetest hostess gifts I ever got was from HP. It was a hangover kit with a little bottle of champagne, some orange juice, Alka-Seltzer, and Gatorade.
6. The Mingler. This person makes so many circuits of the room that my head starts to spin, and eventually becomes even more popular than me. Bonus points if the Mingler seeks out folks who seem a little out-of-place, and makes an effort to include them. That saves me a lot of effort.
7. Anyone who sends a thank-you email. I love being a hostess, but yes, it’s a lot of hard work, time, and money. Anyone who appreciates the effort is going to get a return invitation.
In short, anybody who makes my life easier, not harder, is going to be welcome. Or really anybody who doesn't suck and knows how to have a good time.
In the comments, tell me what kind of party guest you are.
*If you’re my friend, and you see yourself on this list, don’t worry – you have to rack up a LOT of demerits before I drop you off the party roster.