Holidays give chances to practice being a better guest

11/21/2013 12:00 AM

11/20/2013 5:44 PM

Unless you’ve spent the last few weeks, wait, make that months, floating on a piece of ice in the Arctic, you know that the holiday season is here. It makes no difference whether you love the season, hate it, or you’re somewhere in between. It’s here.

Personally I love it. My husband thinks one Christmas tree per house is enough, but he realized it was a losing battle. When someone asked him if I decorated our house for Christmas, he said, “Have you ever seen Macy’s?” I also heard him tell someone if he stands still at home, he’s afraid he’ll have greenery draped over him.

Maybe I overdo it, but this is the time of year you get to take things to the extreme. This is also a good time to remind you of something that seems to slip some people’s minds.

As invitations arrive and ask for an RSVP, do it.

I got a call from a very nice reader who wanted me to remind people to let the hostess know whether they are coming to the soiree or not. I took her suggestion to heart because a 26-year-old female acquaintance recently told me, “I never call or anything because I don’t know what my schedule will be, so I just go if I can.”

First, I asked her if she entertained very often, knowing full well she didn’t. “I don’t because I hate to clean up the mess,” she said.

That did it. I gave her a hypothetical situation that she could absorb only by an enormous stretch of her imagination.

I told her she was having a party. “You decided to invite 30 people and sent the invitations out three weeks in advance,” I said. “You started planning the menu and decided to order special cupcakes from your favorite bakery.

“A week before your party you had to guess at how much food to fix and order because only seven people had responded. You started calling people and got four regrets, three maybes and a yes.”

I asked her how she would know how many people would show up. She said she would guess at 10. So you would order a dozen cupcakes and plan on 10 guests? “I guess,” she said.

Back to the story. I told her all the maybes showed up and several people she didn’t get a hold of also decided to come. “Wow, I wouldn’t have enough food or wine or anything,” she said.

Don’t we love it when that lightbulb goes on?

Without going through another story I explained that it can work the other way when people don’t respond and the host or hostess orders too much food and libation fearing there won’t be enough. Nothing like eating party fare for lunch and dinner for two weeks.

Here are a few tips:

Respond to an invitation as soon as possible, make a note that you did so and the date you responded.

Put all invitations and event notices in one place, on a bulletin board for example.

If the invitation says “regrets only” and you don’t call, that means you should show up.

Never take an additional guest unless you have talked to the hostess first.

It’s not necessary to give a long explanation of why you can’t be at a party, it’s the “yes” or “no” that the host needs to know.

Make sure you and your significant other communicate so you won’t think the other one responded; however, it’s better to have two people respond than neither.

Wichita is known as a “last-minute town” because unless it’s a Taylor Swift concert, we don’t buy a ticket to an event until the last minute. Seems that mentality extends to more personal invitations as well.

It’s a great time of year to work at being a more polite, responsive guest. Don’t believe me? Throw a party. It will prove the point.

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