9 May 2024

Drinks Parties Dilemmas

Hosting a drinks party can be a hazardous affair. Your guests may not behave according to your script, and you might find that you’re forced to deal with dilemmas such as rowdy behaviour, gate-crashers and outraged neighbours. Plan ahead and you should be able to negotiate these problems with a cool head.

The Drunk Guest

If you’re a liberal host and the drink flows freely at your parties, you will have to accept that you’re running the risk of acquiring some guests who are well over the limit. Follow these recommendations:

•Always have a list of taxi and mini-cab numbers close at hand.

•Observe signs of impending drunkenness carefully. Don’t intervene in a heavy-handed way (“I think you’ve had enough”). Just steer the guest to a quiet corner and attempt to ply him/her to drink some strong black coffee and stodgy food. You might even suggest that they lie down for an hour or two.

•If your guest has reached the stage of maudlin introspection, verbal (or even physical) aggression, or neediness and over-emotionalism, the fun is over. Take executive action and order a taxi. When it arrives announce decisively “Oh look, your taxi’s arrived”.

•Ignore any protests from the guests about not having ordered the taxi, just propel them firmly towards it. If they’re drunk enough, they may even assume that they’re suffering from a momentary memory lapse.

•Don’t berate drunk guests while they’re still intoxicated – they won’t remember and you’re wasting your energy. Concentrate instead on removing them safely from the party.

•If you’ve got a belligerent drunk who’s insisting on driving home, you may have to resort to desperate measures – hiding coats and car keys, blocking their car in, or even – as a last resort – plying him/her with an incredibly strong, unconsciousness-inducing  ‘last drink’. It’s better to have a drunk guest sleeping it off on your sofa than to hear news of a terrible accident the following morning.

•If your guest has the good manners to apologise for their behaviour after the party, be gracious. Don’t belabour them with agonising tales of their transgressions, simply thank them politely. Making an ostensibly sympathetic remark like “I hope you didn’t have too terrible a hangover?”, is a good way of recognising the extent of the intoxication without launching into a reproach. Drinkers, take note!

The Gatecrasher

•If you identify a guest who you suspect is a gatecrasher, ask around and make sure that none of your other guests know who they are before taking any steps. A guest may have brought a friend without clearing it with you – this is inconsiderate, but you’ll have to live with it. Marching up to an innocent plus one, who has been assured by your guest that they will be welcome, and demanding that they leave is an embarrassing faux-pas.

•You can avoid this potential minefield by specifying on invitations whether your guests can bring friends/partners.

•If your uninvited guest has no party connections, you should approach him/her and explain that this is an invitation-only party. Ask them politely if they have perhaps made a mistake and are looking for another location? This normally causes embarrassment and instant retreat.

•If your gatecrasher decides to brazen it out, you must decide whether you’re prepared to accept the intrusion (perhaps they look interesting or amusing – but this is a risky strategy). If not, you should ask them, firmly and politely, to leave. A repeated refusal to do so means that you will have to call the police, and you should make it clear to your gatecrasher that you’re prepared to do so.

The Outraged Neighbour

•It is essential that you warn your neighbours when you are planning a party. Do so a few days before the date, just in case they want to make escape plans.

•Whenever possible, invite neighbours along to your parties – it’s much harder to feel outraged when you’re on the inside looking out and it’s a good way of consolidating friendships with neighbours.

•As the host, it is your job to be vigilant throughout the party; that means keeping an eye on your guests, noise levels, disturbances in the street, and intervening swiftly to head off any potential problems with neighbours.

•Before the party begins, make a decision about a reasonable time to quieten down. Remember that after midnight, many neighbours will feel entitled to complain (in fact, local councils define the hours between 11pm and 7am as the period when warning notices can be issued), so it might be a good idea to stop playing loud music before midnight.  Once you’ve made your decision, tell your guests about it and stick to it. It’s easy to get swept away by the bonhomie of the occasion, so it’s a good idea to ask a couple of friends to keep an eye on the clock and remind you of your resolve.

•It’s quite acceptable to specify a finishing time on your invitations. Unless you are at a hired venue and you are being booted out at the appointed hour this ‘end time’ will never be a hard and fast rule, but it is at least an indication of your expectations.

•If guests stay on into the early hours, try and ensure that goodbyes and final chats take place within your house – not in the drive or on the street. Remind guests that it’s late and you don’t want to disturb the neighbours.

•If a neighbour comes round to complain, listen politely, apologise and turn down the music. No ifs, no buts. Noise disputes between neighbours can very quickly turn ugly and you do not want to be trapped in a tit-for-tat noise war.

•If you’re aware that your party has caused a commotion in the street, or if guests have argued with neighbours or been rude to them, it is imperative that you apologise as soon as possible (preferably the next morning). A bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine, accompanied by an apologetic card, should go some way towards easing any post-party tensions.


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