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Nov 3, 2006 05:13 PM

Entertaining - some etiquette and misc questions


I've gotten some great tips and ideas here, hoping for some feedback...TIA!

1. Would it be ok to hold a "holiday housewarming open house" from 3-7, inviting adults only and serving beer, wine and heavy apps (Sat after x-mas)?

We want to have it early as we live a long drive (1-1.5hrs) from most of our guests and don't like the idea of late night drunk driving...

No kids b/c, well we don't have kids ourselves, we'd like to have that cocktail party feel, one of our dogs is skitish around kids she doesn't know(yes we are working on that with a trainer)and one our guests (obligation invite - hubbies family) has the worst behaved kids ever and no one has gotten this through to her!!

2. If guests ask to bring something, is it ever okay to request a specific item you know they make well or that you need (i.e. chips/salsa/guac)?

3. I usually call or email my guests if they don't RSVP, a friend told me this was that true?

4. Do you ever worry about mixing groups/friends? We have some very different age groups, socieconomic backgrounds and political ideologies...I get nervous, am I being too uptight?

Finally, any ideas of suggestions to share?

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  1. 1. Yes. Although since it's just before New Year's, you might have people on vacation and unable to attend.

    2. You're hosting the Open House. Tell them nothing is needed.

    3. If they're rude enough to *not* RSVP, I can't see how calling them to find out if they're coming or not can be construed as rude. Go ahead and do it!

    4. No, I wouldn't worry. Hopefully, your guests are adult enough to not get into a heated political discussion at a party. Having different age groups and socio-economic backgrounds makes for an interesting gathering, IMO.

    5. Enjoy the party YOURSELF. If you can afford to have a few local college kids who are on holiday break be the servers for the afternoon fete, do so (both food and a "bartender", provided they're of age to serve alcohol). That way, you're not doing everything without enjoying the party yourself. You'd only have to write out notes for them as to when to put in such-and-such appetizer in the oven for serving, when to put out the roast beast for carving, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LindaWhit

      This is excellent advice. I agree completely, especially with item 5!

    2. Disclaimer: this is all In My Humble Opinion.

      1. Love the 'between the meals" open houses - it will keep you from tearing your hair out planning a dinner buffet. Sound reasoning on the drink-and-drive issue, too. As for kids? I think it's always okay for someone to specify adults only. I have lots of kids in my life, but it doesn't mean my gathering needs to look like Romper Room - there are other times for gatherings with children. BUT! Be careful of making "one exception" for someone - you could end up with hurt feelings elsewhere on your guest roster. Stick to your guns - you'll be happier for it.

      2. If I have a guest who is a really close pal or close family member, I could see this. Otherwise, I would never make it a practice. Make sure you have what you need already - any offering a guest then brings can simply be accepted graciously. I usually opt for the ol' "bring yourselves - we'll be happy to see you."

      3. Well, it's sort of rude not to RSVP, too, isn't it? I'm not sure what the etiquette is - I would say, consider if the bulk of your crowd is casual or formal? We're casual around here, so I have no problem with a followup call.

      4. If I know that there are those who seriously clash, I will adjust a list accordingly (although this is not always possible in family gatherings!!). Otherwise, most people will be well behaved in a social setting (beware over-imbibers, though). A friend who hosts large and incredibly diverse parties has great success NOT worrying about it, and almost everyone has a better time than if they were in a narrow demographic.

      Finally, organize yourself with good master lists for prep and have convenient waste receptacles. Be well rested, and don't drink too much wine out of nervousness.

      1. 1. The only people who can correctly attend are those to whom invitations are made. If the invitation is not extended to family, one is forbidden to bring family. That's why it's rude to formally state "no kids" in an invite because it implies that the guests are ignorant of basic courtesy. Now, it seems that too many people have, uh, gotten hazy about this basic courtesy, so the normal polite way to deal with it is informally to explain that you can understand if a putative couple cannot attend because they cannot get a babysitter during the holidays.

        2. Yes, but only if you make clear it's not necessary. (Conversely, the guest may not bring food to be served at the event unless you give prior permission or, I will concede, if you are in a circle where that permission is universally understood).

        3. It's arguably rude because it points out the rudeness of your erstwhile friends. A friend who shows up at an event where an affirmative RSVP has been requested by the host is a friend who will find him or herself not getting invited to events requiring an RSVP, sooner rather than later. Real friends are not rude to each other like that.

        4. That's why guests are traditionally forbidden to discuss sex, politics and religion and are limited to topics of no consequence. (It does help to have guests with sufficient commonality of some interest to ensure there are enough inconsequential topics for them to enjoy discussing. And, if they are at table, the host(s) should model good behavior by turning the table of conversation from time to time.) Of course, guests who transgress this rule reap what they sow. And many do so happily. Transgressors who get upset again don't get invited back. Innocent victims of said transgressors get comforted by the host and invited back.

        * * *

        Now, I wrote this rather archly, and realize it seems rather stiff and what not. But...there's actually a great deal of practical wisdom behind that starchiness.

        1. Wow, some of you take this stuff way too seriously.

          1. If we don't want kids, and we know the people well and they are those who usually bring their kids we tell them so. No hurt feelings among friends. Not fair to let some bring kids and not others, unless there's huge age differences. Our teenagers are usually invited to places where toddlers would not be appropriate.

          2. In our circle, everyone usually brings an app or dessert to share. In your case, if someone you know makes a killer guac for example, let them bring it. It makes them feel good and everyone get to enjoy their cooking. If their offer is for something out of character for the party, tell them so.

          3. Generally, an "open house" dosn't require an RSVP's an open house.

          4. Mixed groups make for more interesting parties.

          Just my opinion

          2 Replies
          1. re: saeyedoc

            I agree about the mixed group thing. It's a must in my book...although I wouldn't invite a loudmouthed drunk to my house..nor would I be friends with one.

            I think it is just fine to put (Adult Open House). My sister had a huge wedding and expensive reception for her daughter and the invitation read something to the effect that the reception was being held at a location that was not safe for younger children. (Lots of stairs, etc.)

            I agree, nobody RSVP's to an Open House.

            1. re: melly

              They are supposed to if the RSVP is requested. The request for a response in the invitation trumps. If there is no request, then I would agree. But once a host requests a response, the duty falls on the guest, and it would thus indeed be rude not to respond.

          2. 1. I am in agreement about the 3-7pm time frame. It is a perfect way to see friends, family, etc. without the pressure of a formal meal. Be sure, as it sounds like you will be, to serve enough food to insure people will have plenty to fill their stomachs along with the alcohol (this last part might be better situated at the end when you ask for ideas and suggestions). Additionally, it is a busy time of year for lots of people so it fills in a "free" block of time between meals when people may already be locked in to other plans.

            2. I like the idea of "just bring your self..." and if they bring something (there are always those that do - I do), will usually be wine or the like and that is always a good thing during an open house.

            3. Not sure how I feel about this. If you sent out formal invites, I agree it is rude not to respond, so in this case, yes, I would reach out to them. You will need some sort of head count for prep, no? If it is a casual invite, you may not want to bother, especially if you plan on having a buffet type service with plenty of food to go around. Karl makes a good point but I do not think certain rules of etiquette hold as much weight nowadays, unfortunately.

            4. There was something about this in last Sunday's NY Times, style section, I believe. (I need to double check). It basically talked about how politics have turned so volatile that it is no longer acceptable to talk about it in social situations. Not that is ever was formally, but for the last some-odd (I forget the number used) years, politics became a topic of discussion in social settings. Now, people are avoiding it and those that disagree with them in order to keep the peace.