Monday, October 28, 2013

PPP Day 28: How to Be A Better Guest

     When I was in 7th grade, I was painfully awkward. I was a walking, talking homeschool stereotype. I had bad hair, unstylish clothes, and thought I knew-it-all. I have a specific memory of attending a friend's theater performance: "Fiddler on the Roof". It was a very high-end production, especially considering that all the actors were middle or high-schoolers. I was filled with awe by their talent, the lights, the sets, the costumes and all the attention. I was consumed with the desire to be a part of all that. I could see myself on the stage, taking bows to the roar of applause...

    What I wish I could have told myself is that the role I played in that production was important, too, even though I couldn't see it. I wasn't an actor, I wasn't a tech person, I wasn't even a stage hand. But that show couldn't have gone on without the part I had: spectator. I know it seems odd, but a performance isn't a performance if there is no audience! As a middle schooler, though, I had no idea that being a spectator meant the world to those who had prepared specifically to please me, and those who filled the seats around me.

   In the same way a theater group performs for those in the seats, a party planner plans for the guests. Even if it is very intimate group of only 4 or 5, there is still the desire to please those attending, and pull everything together to leave everyone with pleasant memories and impressions.

    If your "only" role in a party is that of guest, it is still a vital one! Just as it is important for a theater patron to arrive on time, applaud, and not make out of place noises and gestures, there are some things that will help you to be a pleasant guest, and to "reward" all your host's efforts.

1. Offer to bring something. Your participation doesn't have to be limited to just showing up. I really try to check with my hostess and see if she needs me to bring a dish, or contribute in some other way. This isn't always expected, or even needed, but it is so thoughtful. Simply ask, "What can I bring?".

2. Arrive on time! This doesn't apply if you are the guest of honor, actually it is usually expected that *they* will be a few minutes late, so as not to arrive before any last minute preparations, and all the other guests. But if you are there to help celebrate someone else, try to be timely.

3. Offer to help. If you are there on time, chances are good that no matter how organized your hostess, there are still a few last-minute things that need to be done. Can you put veggies on a tray? Can you fill glasses with ice? Try to jump in where you see a need, without being pushy or getting in the way. Usually, there are plenty of tasks for willing hands!

4. Participate! The game may seem silly, or you may not know all the other guests, but try to be cheerful and involved. It is difficult to make sure conversation always flows smoothly, and often what seemed like a clever activity late the night before is suddenly ridiculous in the light of day, but your hostess has put so much energy and effort into it, is it really that important to remain aloof?  It may push you out of your comfort zone, but if for no other reason, try to be an enthusiastic guest just to honor your friend. Introduce yourself to others, or volunteer to be first in the game. She will appreciate it more than you know.

5. Bring a small token of appreciation. Even if you are not the guest of honor, it is never inappropriate to bring a hostess gift. You do *NOT* have to do this, and I don't think anyone even really expects it anymore. However, that makes it even more special if you do take the time to do it. I really like to do this for holidays, I try to take a gift to anyone who hosts our family for Thanksgiving or Christmas, particularly. This isn't something you need to do every time you are a guest, but think about if it would bless your particular host.

6. Aid in clean up. Hostesses are tired after putting together decor, food, and activities. Not to mention usually having cleaned the whole house! Offer to store food, gather trash or wash dishes. Many hands make light work, and it is often a great way to keep the conversation going after the party has "ended".

    It may seem like all you have to do is a guest is show up, but you can really bless your hostess and all the other guests by going a little further. It is really best thought of as "treating others the way you want to be treated". Take it from someone who has done a lot of party planning: nothing makes a party successful and worthwhile like the guests! With the holidays coming soon, I have a feeling we will all get the chance to practice to be perfect...

This is Day 28 of "31 Days of Perfect Party Planning". See the rest of the series here.

I'm linked up at "Thrifty Thursdays" at Living Well, Spending Less.

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