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The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

Posted by socialaholic (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 16, 08 at 23:33

Ok. I know it's all my fault. I give them what they want and they never leave. Mostly that is fine...until it's not. Suggestions, ideas? Or is there any help for me?

Here is a recent open house event experience that I wanted to share. We just moved into a new place and wanted to do the open house thing to meet the neighbors and have friends and family over. We are involved in a lot of different social groups and entertain regularly and thought we were so smart by now on how to throw a bash without killing ourselves. Ha! The invite list was well over seventy five people, and we wanted to do the "in shifts thing" so we actually set up three versions of the invitation. My husband and I also were also celebrating our 35 birthday's that month so we had a Housewarming "Open House" from 2 - 5 and a Birthday Shin Dig from 8 to midnight. The plan was to have the church folks, older family, kids and neighbors out to the first event (in shifts) and then a smaller handful of close friends, party people etc. out to the second. A handful of folks got an invite to both. We specifically detailed the type of refreshments to expect & if children were invited on each. We were confident in our decision and expected an "easy" party because we wouldn't have to serve a full meal and we'd get to rest between events for nearly 3 hours, to give us time to clean up, shuffle the kiddo off to the sitter, change etc. etc. YEAH RIGHT!

So, on the big day, a dozen neighbors showed up to the "Open House" at precisely 2 pm on the dot. ????? That threw me big time. I didn't even have all of the food out yet! Almost everyone else showed up between 3:30 and 4:30 (the event was supposed to end at 5:30!). ALMOST NO ONE LEFT, EXCEPT A FEW NEIGHBORS. At 6 pm people began to get hungry again and I heard rumblings that all the chips and dips were gone so I started dipping into the munchies for the evening party. People were still eating when the evening crew began to arrive. The people that came for the early event with their kids started feeling uneasy when the drinks were broken out because they were unable to find sitters (even though we forewarned them about it). But they didn't want to leave, so I hired a sitter to come to our place and keep everyone's kids upstairs while we visited downstairs ($$$$$). Everyone stayed until the wee hours of the morning, some people didn't arrive until 10 pm and almost NO ONE RSVP'd. We had something like 60 guests all total. I spent 10 hours on my feet cooking and preparing drinks most of the night while my hubby mixed, mingled and served the guests. We have a great open kitchen, so I didn't miss out on any visiting but I did miss out on the relaxing party!

We had a good time, but not the laid back kind of thing we'd hoped for. I think perhaps the great plan is to just be prepared to wing it or hire someone to do it for you. Planning is great fun, but people never cooperate, no matter how much instruction you provide!!!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

The folks you invited for the 2-5 slot had no idea you had another event for the 8-12 slot. They came, saw people still coming, and thought the party was still going on. Unless you specifically told people time to get out, they'd assume you wanted them to stay (and people were still coming so they assumed the party was going on longer than they thought). After all, you can't exactly go to people and say sorry, your shift is over, now get out.

Take it as a sign people like your hospitality but don't plan a back to back like that anymore!! I can see why you were exhausted.


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

What you tried to do was have two separate parties back to back and your plan backfired. I'm not sure I've ever had a party that didn't run over the alotted time. People tend to linger when there's good conversation, good company, good food. But even more than that, it sounds like you invited some to party A (Afternoon Open House), some to party B (evening Bday party) and some to both... is that right?

If that's the case, it was inevitable that some of the overlappers were going to stay over the gap time, and that some of the Open House only people might not realize that it was time for them to leave, especially if they hadn't been invited to the later party.


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me///

That last sentence should have read:

...some of the Open House only people might not realize that it was time for them to leave, especially if they didn't realize there was a later party that was meant to be a separate event.


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

And that's one of the reasons I would never do a "in shifts" party.
You can bet your bippy that it was known that there were 2 parties....and you can bet that some knew they were not invited to "The real party"...the later one.
I have been in on more that one conversation that discussed..."were you in the 4 to 6 group?..Really! Well we;re in the 6 to 8 group!"....the later group always gets to stay later....the early group SHOULD know to leave when their time's up...but don't always.
Shift parties very often don't work liek you think!!
But...was it fun? Did your guests enjoy?...well then that's what it's all about!
Linda C


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

I agree with the other posters. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now you know why more people don't try to give 2 parties in the same day! Basically, you set yourself up for 10 solid hours (plus pre-2:00 prep) of hosting, clean-up, re-set-up, and hosting again. Who could do their best with that kind of challenge?

In addition, even though you are experienced hosts, I think you took on quite a bit here -- entertaining 75 people, including clean up and set up in between, without any paid help -- well, I am sure you must have been exhausted; who wouldn't be? And when you are that tired, it is indeed a big deal to have people stay late. If you had only one party, with either a smaller number or some sort of help, I bet it wouldn't have seemed so overwhelming when people stayed late.

I am not sure why you are so outraged that people arrived at 2:00 for a 2:00 party. I agree it's nice to give the guests a little cushion and come a few minutes late, but you really can't get mad or be surprised if someone arrives on the dot. Sometimes people have to leave early because of another commitment, so they come as early as they can. (I've had people show up 30-60 minutes EARLY -- how would you like that? Once I was just getting into the shower!)

I also don't understand this at all: "Almost everyone else showed up between 3:30 and 4:30 (the event was supposed to end at 5:30)." What is wrong with that? You said it was an "'Open House' from 2 - 5." My confusion isn't whether it was 5 or 5:30, it's that I don't understand what is wrong with coming between 3:30 and 4:30 for a 2-5 (or 5:30) open house -- isn't the whole idea that people come and go within the time frame? 2:00 is too early, 3:30 is too late -- and this is "laid back"?

Regarding people staying late for the evening party -- well, they were having fun, so good for you! It must have been a good party. But here again, I don't understand a few things. First you don't seem to like it that many guests didn't come until 10 -- but you didn't plan to feed them dinner (and evidently were clear about that on th invitation), so perhaps they went out to dinner first or something. People come on time for a dinner party, but they don't feel they must be there at the very beginning for a munchies "shindig" -- four hours seems like a lot for that. Regarding staying past midnight: few adult parties (other than open houses; see above) set end times. Even if you'd put it on the invitation, I bet some didn't remember or even notice it.

I also don't understand why you were surprised or resentful that you were in the kitchen: you invited a LOT of people to your home, and you started running low on food, so you did what any good host does: you got something for them to eat. If that happens again, spare yourself the work while your guests are there, and order a few pizzas.

But as Lindac says: the most important thing is whether your guests had a great time. And it sounds like they did!


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

Sure, there's help. Stop being so much fun!

Naw, just kidding.

So you've learned that you have prompt neighbors. You'll plan for that next time. You can also plan for a shorter duration party. Mine start at 8 and go to whenever, which usually means the last people able to drive leave around 4am, the rest sleep it off at our house. That's plenty of time for anyone to have significant fun, and at 2am, who cares if the only munchies left is a delivered pizza?

I only see future trouble with the hiring a babysitter thing. It's like condoning bringing kids to all future events. And not just the rude people who brought their uninvited children, but everyone else who doesn't feel like finding a sitter for your next event. Honestly, I don't know how to deal with that. But maybe you want to rent my very sweet Rottie as your next sitter to keep the kids entertained?


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

Somebody always shows up way early. It is usually a good friend who can help with stuff.
If I were invited, and more people kept coming that I knew or wanted to talk to, it would not occur to me that you had several shifts coming. The only place I ever saw that done was School open house receptions. People knew, this is for the lst graders, etc. and its over at 3 so the 2nd graders could come in.
Shifts is the kind of idea some of these magazines come up with. I worked for a magazine (at 20) and with deadlines
we just invented stuff---like a hot dog diet, or making your own bridal bouquet out of corn husks with asparagus fern in the middle. People would write in outraged and our circulation would go up.

Last weekend, I solved the same party a different way. had one group on saturday and one on /sunday. Same menu, except that Sunday was a bigger group and we had some leftovers like cut up fruit & cookies from Saturday, and got to see that people liked sparkling water, and little dessert except fruit and small cookies.

too bad you got so tired, but I would bet people think you are a wonderful hostess.


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

Nothing worth gossiping about ever happens at an afternoon party (weddings excluded). Those people knew darn well that the food, drink and mojo would be better later and so they stayed.

Alcohol, hot chicks, some gratuitous PDA and hot tubs are the international sign that it's time to go for all the parents with kids and usually the church folk as well. Still, it's better to entertain these groups separately.

I like to hire a caterer, a bar tender and a valet (he parks cars, drives people in the golf cart to the house and makes sure no gets in who wasn't invited). This allows me enjoy my party with my guests.


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RE: The Party that Wouldn't End...Is there any help for me

I think the bottom line is that you tried to do too much. You always run a risk of hurting feelings when some are invited to one sort of party---and others to another---all in one day. And adding children to the mix? But only at certain times? WAY too complicated. It does sound like your guests had fun---but did you?


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