It is definitely the party time of year now! And with it, comes oh so very many rules for both Hosts and Guests.
This is a super long chapter. Not only is today’s post long itself, but this will actually be a two parter. So let’s go!
An Emotional Load Does NOT Put Me in a Party Mood!
When a couple is entertaining together, OF COURSE it is the hostess who issues invitations and accepts them.
“She is, in effect, the family’s social secretary.”
Harper’s Bazaar had a fantastic article on why this is problematic a couple of months ago, please go give it a read.
If the husband receives an invitation for them, he is supposed to check back in with the wife before accepting, as a courtesy to her. Which, yeah, totes. But it should go the other way, too, right? Both members of the couple should get a say?
Here’s a weird bit to me:
“In issuing invitations to someone you have met in another person’s house, you must include your host and hostess in the first invitation to the people you met there.”
That seems unnecessary to me, as a blanket statement.
Everything about guests arriving seems pretty common sense to me. If you have servants, they answer the door. If you only have one and it’s a dinner party, let them continue preparing the meal. Then, or if there are no servants, the host does door duty.
If it’s a situation where, god forbid, a single woman is entertaining alone, she should appoint a male guest, a relative or close friend, to greet guests at the door.
If only women, you may as well not even have a party, amirite?
Jokes, jokes. A friend can do it in that case.
Speaking of male friends acting as host for a single lady… You best believe there are strict rules for that! Especially at the end of the night.
“If he does seem very much an intimate of the household in this way, there is, possibly, some speculation concerning his exact relationship to the hostess. To allay such speculation, a bachelor girl may designate more than one “acting host” from among her men friends.”
Why is she a girl, and they men?
“But if only one serves, he is careful to leave with the last guest if it is late in the evening.”
Because sex only happens in the evening time!
“Even if the relationship between “host” and hostess is quite intimate, a gentleman must always go to elaborate lengths to avoid anything that might appear to be compromising.”
Because obviously, the only reason men and women spend any time together is to bone. It’s been 65 freaking years and nothing here has changed.
The Extra Woman
Fortunately, this has changed, as far as I can tell. If you run in circles where this is an actual issue, let me know. Then go find some new friends.
“While an extra man is a boon to a hostess, an extra woman can be either a problem or make a problem for herself.”
What is most confusing in all this for me, is that it doesn’t appear to be so much a problem of keeping the party at an even number. It’s apparently considerate for a hostess to let her bring a man, sure, but also suggest she come with a couple already invited. And at a dinner party there may be an “extra” man or two invited.
“The woman who must, or who prefers to, arrive alone should have a fictitious reason to leave early if pairing – so usual at cocktail parties – seems unlikely in her case. Sad, indeed, is the lone woman who stays at a cocktail party to the bitter end, hoping some interesting male will turn up, only to depart well past the dinner hour obviously dateless.”
OR MAYBE SHE’S SIMPLY ENJOYING HAVING DRINKS WITH HER FRIENDS, AMY V! Ugh, that was so gross.
Also gross: rape culture.
“A woman who drives herself to such a party and drives home herself should be asked by the hostess to phone upon her arrival home.”
This shit never changes.
So Long, Farewell
When leaving a party, it’s paramount to not make a big deal out of it. This differs entirely from a formal dinner.
If you want/need to leave early, excuse yourself from the group without explicitly stating your intentions to leave the entire shindig. Then quietly say goodbye to the hostess. Then say goodnight to the host, unless there’s a chance your doing so might break up the entire party. If that could be the case, just tell the hostess to give the host your regards.
I have no idea why telling the hostess goodnight doesn’t break up the party.
The Problem Guests
If an uninvited guest just drops in, no worries. You’re under no obligation to entertain them. You may simply say something like,
“I do hope you’ll excuse us. Our dinner is ready. We’re busy this evening or I’d ask you to join us. But perhaps some other…”
Super classy and most likely effective. If they don’t get the hint, they’re pretty awful. Judge them accordingly.
But maybe not as “deplorable” as someone who brings a stranger along to their friends’ home! Amy V is NOT a fan of someone who does that, and makes up a judgement on your character.
“If you turn up with your crew and he is obviously without the slightest excuse to escape you, you have done a thoughtless thing. You probably won’t even think to offer to leave after twenty minutes or so but will make yourself at home by his fire side and his best scotch, no doubt, till far beyond what he hoped would be his bedtime.”
That…seems like maybe a big leap to make there, Amy V, but ok. Methinks she may have been burned in this very specific way herself.
Anyway, another classy yet probably effective response to get this deplorable person out of your house:
“It was nice of you to bring the Snodgrasses over, but Joe (or Mary) has had a hard day today and there are a couple of things we want to go over this evening before I get him (or her) to bed. I know you understand and do let us know [hint!] when the Snodgrasses visit you again and perhaps we can plan a little something.”
I’m unsure as to why this is the only time both sexes are given consideration, but I won’t knock it. Huzzah!
ALSO THIS IS GREAT:
“Given advance notice, you are not required to receive anyone in your home you don’t wish to see. If they arrive unannounced, you can dispose of them in any tactful way after twenty minutes or so by treating them as formal callers.”
The Problem Drinker
Moving on from the simply rude guest, what if you have that one friend who always drinks too much and ends up annoying or pissing off your other guests? Amy V recommends heading it off at the pass.
Don’t just let your guests have free reign with the alcohol. Mix up some drinks and distribute them yourself, and then perhaps a refill. Then that’s it.
“…keep a sharp eye on the source of supply, keep track of each round, and lock up all alcohol, including beer and wine, after a reasonable amount has been dispensed.”
Amy V does acknowledge that guests could always arrive “fortified” already, but doesn’t really offer a solution.
Your Racist Tap Dancing Aunt
Amy V goes with the phrase “highly and unamusingly contentious,” but we all know that means that problematic relative who goes off on racist rants, or something else that makes everyone super uncomfortable. Yet sometimes, they still have to be invited.
But don’t you worry, you know ya girl Amy V has you covered. And it actually sounds like a really great solution!
“If he gets underway, and others are growing angry or hurt, the host or hostess breaks in with, “Perhaps we’d better continue this some other time,” and then attempts a diverting technique.”
A game of ping-pong or something, or even just a walk, might help them to get out their aggression physically.
Or even better, get them to do something where they can show off! A magic trick, piano playing, or even tap dancing! Y’all, I would give anything to watch a combative conversation turn into a revue show. Best party ever.
I imagine because of the baby boom and everyone moving to suburbs, Amy V realized not everyone has a designated guest room. So much so that she wonders if
“Perhaps in time there will be no such thing as the overnight guest.”
I think that’s unlikely, Amy V. People are always going to want a free place to crash. We all adjusted just fine to staying in
“…a room ordinarily devoted to sister Susie or to mother’s sewing and mending.”
Wherever you do end up putting your guest, Amy V has these suggestions on The Extra Touches That Count
- Night clothes, including bathrobe and slippers
- I think a onesie might be an awesome modern touch
- Face towel, wash cloth, bath towel, soap
- Razor, shaving cream, clean brush and comb, deodorant
- Adequate bedclothes-more than adequate if there’s any doubt
- A bed light for reading
- Current magazines, a mystery, or any preferred bedtime reading
- Facial tissues, cold cream, toothbrush, and toothpaste
- Enough pillows to permit reading in bed
- Cigarettes and ash trays, though put your foot down about in-bed smoking
- Hangers for clothes, including trouser-skirt hangers
- A bedtime snack-offer it anyhow but a dish of fruit, a plate, knife, and a paper napkin add cheer on a bed table, and a hot drink-bouillon or hot milk (the guest may prefer it skimmed)-in a vacuum bottle is a thoughtful addition
If you’re lucky enough to have a permanent guest room, here are
“some additional desirable attractions:”
- A full-length mirror with a makeup mirror, attached or separate, that shows the sides of the face
- Free drawer space, enough of it so a weekend guest needn’t dress from his bags
- Shoe racks and trees, hat boxes or stands, clothes brush, spot remover, sewing kit
- Manicure equipment
- A well-equipped shoe-cleaning box
- A plug-in radio
- Writing equipment of all kinds, including postcards (stamped)
- Hamper or laundry bag
- Drop-down ironing board and folding iron
- I had no idea what a folding iron was. Here ya go
- Luggage rack or bed tray
- Aspirin, milk of magnesia
- “Don’t disturb” sign
- An electric hot pad or hot water bottle
- Scrap basket
We do have an actual guest room, and I love it so hard. We’re still working on it, and now I also desperately want to do as many of the things on these lists as possible! Some part of me REALLY loves all this. I’ll see about getting it done before we have guests next, and keep you updated.
No cigarettes though, sorry.
I have one thing I’d add to the list, though. A trash can. Have you ever stayed somewhere and not had one available? A little thing, but it’s more annoying than you’d think.
Turn Down Service
It would NEVER occur to me to do this for my friends, but if you do want to provide turn down service, and don’t have a chambermaid, here are the super precise instructions to doing so correctly:
“A double bed which is to be occupied by one person has the spread removed or neatly folded lengthwise at the foot of the bed if it is very light and won’t be a weight on the feet. If it is removed, it is not tossed on a chair but is folded neatly to preserve its freshness and to keep the room restfully in order. The top sheet, which should extend as much as twelve inches Over the tops of the blankets, is turned, with the blankets, in a right angle with the center of the bed forming the perpendicular side of the resulting triangle. This turn-back should be on the side from which the guest is expected to enter the bed. If two people will occupy the double bed, turn back the other side the same way, on the other side of the bed, so that you now have two right-angled triangles with the center of the bed a common side. This makes a neater effect than does the more usual method of simply turning back the coverings half way down the whole bed.
The pillows, which have been pressed into a roll under the bedspread, should be plumped up and resettled on the bed with the borders to the outside edges of the bed, seams toward the center. If a bolster has been used, it should be removed and sleeping pillows substituted. If you have a closet or chest in which to place unneeded bedding for the night, you will help create a restful atmosphere by getting the bolster out of sight. If you use a day bed, try to create space in drawers, closets, or built-in ends to house the box spread and the cushions, so that they may be kept out of sight during the time the bed is used for sleeping.”
Got that? Because it feels like there may be a quiz.
And Now We Make a Gigantic About Face!
From turn down service straight into making your guests try to survive in the woods?
When I first saw this section headed as guest houses, I just assumed it was going to be super fancy, a step up from a guest room to a fully stocked small house. In fact, I assumed it would be basically like the adorable Air B&B I’m sitting in right at this moment.
Oh no, my friends. Amy V means an apparent shack in the woods. I didn’t think she would have even an inkling of such an abode.
“Don’t introduce a city-dweller to a guest house heated by a wood, kerosene, or coal stove without fully instructing him on the management of it.”
No shit! They’re definitely gonna die otherwise.
Amy V has some extra tips even if your guests are staying in your regular nice house, yet in the country. Let them know if your hot water supply is limited, or if you have a septic tank or cesspool, and to act accordingly.
I think thats important to be aware of even in the ‘burbs. Also, it’s important to tell your guests how your shower works. That shit gets confusing at someone else’s house.